Jean-Marc was in love with Beirut, the city that always makes you feel it is yours. In Beirut, he designed modern and unique buildings, overlooking the beautiful city that inspired him. He could never have imagined that these same buildings will stand witness to an earth-shattering explosion that will sow fire and destruction.
Jean-Marc was the only son of Architect Maurice Bonfils and Norma Gédéon, and the brother of Dominique Bonfils Tabet. He was born in Beirut and studied at College Notre Dame de Jamhour. He earned his degree in architecture with distinction from the Paris-Villemin School of Architecture, and a degree in the history of art from Ecole du Louvre in 1987. He completed his master's degree at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.
Jean-Marc first worked in Paris for ten years, where he was part of multiple developments, such as the Greenpark project, including three golf courses, 900 individual houses and several administrative units. He came back to Lebanon in 1995, after his father won an International competition for the modernization and reconstruction of (Beirut central district) central Beirut. In 1999, Jean-Marc became a member of the national committee for the preservation of old houses, and a consultant to the Lebanese Minister of Culture at the time. He worked on the draft plans for the re-establishing of the Lebanese National Library, but his initiative was stolen by Lebanon's corrupt politicians, as per his sister Dominique. He was also a member of the National Museum Committee, and he put much effort for its rehabilitation and renovation.
Jean-Marc started his own architectural company, J.M. Bonfils and Associates sal, in 2006. The firm employed fifteen architects and developed more than 100 projects in Lebanon, France, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was most famous for his creativity, as well as his yearn for learning more and more every day. Jean-Marc was a straight personality, and a very generous man. His friends describe him as Mr. happy, always wearing his smile. He taught at the American University of Beirut, and later at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA), where he was commonly invited to be member of the jury for diploma degrees. He was a creative and kind teacher, respected and loved by his students.
Jean-Marc, handsome grey-haired 57-year old, described Beirut as the beautiful city of contradictions, like it comes from a different realm and reality, pulling between its past and its future.
Jean-Marc won several International awards, mainly the Asia Architecture Award in 2015, in the housing division, for his East Village Building, in which he merged between modern architecture and traditional Lebanese architecture.
Few minutes before the horrific Beirut blast, Jean-Marc was in his apartment in the East Village Building he designed, which is located in Mar Mikhael facing the Port of Beirut, where he was live streaming the preceding fire on Facebook. Due to the blast He was fatally injured, but he was still alive when one of his friends evacuated him to the American University of Beirut Medical Centre, where he passed away a few hours later.
Jean-Marc dreamed of a better Lebanon. A corruption free Lebanon, where Lebanese can live in dignity and respect… But his dream did not come true…
With Jean-Marc's passing, Lebanon lost a true priceless man who unconditionally loved his country. A man who devoted his life to the reconstruction of Beirut, while preserving its architectural heritage, despite all the opportunities he was offered overseas… Until the horrific explosion took his life and destroyed his works of art… Who will restore Beirut's beauty and bring it back to life now that he is gone forever!?