European Quarter of Brussels
Many of the EU institutions are located within the European Quarter of Brussels, which is the unofficial name of the area corresponding to the approximate triangle between Brussels Park, Cinquantenaire Park and Leopold Park (with the Parliament's hemicycle extending into the latter).
The Commission and Council are located in the heart of this area near to the Schuman station at the Schuman roundabout on the Rue de la Loi. The European Parliament is located over the Brussels-Luxembourg station, next to Luxembourg Square.
The area itself was historically residential, an aspect which was rapidly lost as the institutions moved in. Historical and residential buildings, although still present, have been largely replaced by modern offices. These buildings were built not according to a high quality master plan or government initiative, but according to speculative private sector construction of office space, without which most buildings of the institutions would not have been built. However, due to Brussels's attempts to consolidate its position, there was large government investment in infrastructure in the quarter. Authorities are keen to stress that the previous chaotic development has ended, being replaced by planned architecture competitions and a master plan.
The quarter itself is highly centralised and criticised by some, for example Romano Prodi, for being an administrative ghetto isolated from the rest of the city (though this view is not shared by all). There is also a perceived lack of symbolism, with some such as Rem Koolhaas proposing that Brussels needs an architectural symbol to represent Europe (akin to the Eiffel Tower or Colosseum). Others do not think this is in keeping with the idea of the EU, with Umberto Eco viewing Brussels as a "soft capital"; rather than it being an "imperial city" of an empire, it should reflect the EU's position as the "server" of Europe. Despite this, the plans for redevelopment intend to deal with a certain extent of visual identity in the quarter.