Wishing to create wider, better-ventilated streets in Paris and make them safer, Baron Haussmann, decided, during the Second Empire, to clear the Boulevard du Temple of the many theatres found there.
The refurbishment of the two theatres in the Place du Châtelet was intended to compensate for the disappearance of the others. This plan attracted some spontaneous proposals including this very beautiful design for the Théâtre Lyrique (today the Théâtre de la Ville), which was to replace the historic Théâtre National on the Boulevard du Temple on the east side of the square. But Haussmann, who also wanted to rationalise the system of public commissions in Paris, preferred to entrust his new projects to architects from the capital's technical services department so that he could have more control over costs and aesthetic decisions. For this reason, in 1856, Gabriel Davioud (1824-1881), then chief architect for promenades and plantations, was appointed to direct the building work.
This anonymous design is very similar in the composition of its volumes to the final construction, but differs most strikingly in the detail. It took its references from classical Antiquity, whereas Davioud's building featured Renaissance style decoration.