Ernest Hébrard (1875 – 1933) was a French architect, archaeologist and urban planner. He is best known for the plans he drew up for the reconstruction of Thessaloniki, after the great fire of 1917 that destroyed a large part of the city.
At first, he worked in Italy, where he was honored with the “Rome Prize” for his work there to highlight the Roman monumental wealth. In World War I, he was a member of the French mission in Greece, then occupied by the Entente. When he settled in Thessaloniki, he was initially engaged in recording the Roman monuments of the city.
Immediately after the great fire, which occurred on Saturday, August 18, 1917, prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos forbade the rebuilding of the city until a modern city plan was approved. By decision of the then Minister of Transport, Alexandros Papanastasiou, the “International Commission for the New Plan of Thessaloniki” was established, chaired by Ernest Ebrard, to draw up a street plan. Hébrard with the help of the English architects E. Mawson and J. Pleyber and the Greek architects A. Ginis, Aristotle Zachos and Konstantinos Kitsikis, conceived and developed a plan that became known as the Hébrard Plan, which was delivered to the General Administration of Macedonia on June 29 1918. The plan was not fully implemented because it underwent many changes due to pressure from large landowners. It was, however, a great improvement on the earlier residential situation of the city and gave it a modern European layout and appearance.
A few months later, in 1918, he was appointed by the Greek government as a professor of architecture at the National Technical University of Athens, as well as a member of the Supreme Technical Council and in 1927, was designated as a consultant to the Ministry of Education, when he prepared a special study for the Thessaloniki campus.
Hébrard was also involved in other ventures, such as the rebuilding of the Casa Blanca in Morocco and Diocletian’s palace in Split in today’s Croatia, as well as the planning of various cities in French Indochina.
Ernest Hébrard returned to Paris in 1930 due to health problems, where he died just three years later age 58, in 1933.