High-Rise Proposals Spur Outrage In Paris

Officials in Paris plan to unveil sketches of high-rise developments proposed for the outer rings of the city -- a development type nearly two-thirds of Parisians oppose. Many argue that the aesthetic focus shortchanges social concerns in the city.

"Two years after riots swept through the tower blocks of the Paris suburbs, mayor Bertrand Delanoe will unveil on Wednesday artists' impressions of skyscrapers planned for three areas within the capital's ringroad. 'The drawings are just sketches. None of the plans will actually come to fruition,' claimed Socialist city planning councillor Jean-Pierre Caffet, in response to a survey in which 63 per cent of Parisians said they were opposed to high-rises."

"But opposition politicians, led by Francoise de Panafieu who will challenge the Socialist Delanoe in elections in March, claim the authorities want to 'trick' Parisians by floating the idea and hoping it gains ground. Even the Greens, who are the Socialists' allies in power, are unhappy. Rene Dutrey, head of the Green group at the Council of Paris, said: 'I do not understand the approach. The city hall has shown us drawings and asked us whether we find the blocks beautiful. Before you choose packaging, you have to decide on content. Parisians need social housing and green spaces, not commercial centres near roads.'"

Full Story: High-rise vision sparks Paris revolt



Thom Mayne Blights Paris

But a high-rise by Thom Mayne has already been approved. It will be almost as tall at the Eiffel Tower and will blight the Paris skyline. Take a look at the "brilliant" modern design, the sort of thing that won Mayne the Pritzker Prize, at

Let's hope that this opposition is enough to stop more of the same.
Charles Siegel

Not exactly

Mayne's skyscraper was approved as part of a redevelopment of La Defense, the 1960s/70s era modernist intervention which is located about 7 miles northwest of the center of Paris. It's also outside of the ring road, the Boulevard Périphérique, which largely defines the boundaries of the historic core. According to the article, the proposed new high-rises would be located inside the ring road, more specifically the 18th arrondissement and the right bank. No new high-rises have been built inside the ring road since the completion of the banal Tour Montparnassee in 1972 due and the subsequent outrage that followed.

Here's what the Nov. 05, 1973 issue of Time magazine had to say about it:

"The building's unrelieved ugliness and monstrous scale have prompted French editorialists, architects and private citizens to rage against it. Partly in response to the public outcry, the Municipal Council has imposed a height limitation of 80 ft. on all new construction in the city. Disagreeing, Aaron says: "Either we want to keep Paris as a museum or we want Paris to live.""

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Same snake oil, different salesman.

Mayne Again

Mayne's skyscraper will be tall enough that it will be visible throughout the city, blighting the skyline.

The new proposal would not just blight the skyline but would also blight older neighborhoods.

There is a difference, as you say: the difference between bad and worse.

Charles Siegel

Imperfect World

La Defense is already a blight on the skyline. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:La_D%C3%A9fense3.jpg

Its only saving grace is that it is located well outside the historic core and its impact on Haussmann's midrise 19th century skyline is nominal. Yes allowing Mayne's skyline there is the lesser of two evils, but what is the alternative? London??

Even worse check out the recent proposals in Turin and Saint Petersburg.



Blights On Skylines

La Defense is already a blight on the skyline, and Paris made exactly the same mistake that London did: they decided that, since the earlier generation of boxy highrises is ugly, they need an even bigger highrise built by a world-renowned starchitect to make the skyline more "interesting." As a result, they are getting a much worse blight on the skyline.

Check out http://preservenet.blogspot.com/2007/09/londons-interesting-skyline.html for a visualization of the buildings planned for London, all by world-renowned avant-gardist starchitects like Thom Mayne.

There is still time to sign the petition against the proposal in St. Petersburg at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/petersburg/. I helped a group of St. Petersburg architects to put this petition up, and they are taking it down soon.

The proposal in Turin just lost narrowly in a vote on the web, though I don't suppose that vote is binding.

Charles Siegel

Blighting Milan's Skyline

Now there is an equally ugly proposal for Milan. At http://www.avoe.org/index_NEW.html, you can see an image of the proposed highrises (twisty, tilted, and shiny) and you can click a link that lets you vote on the proposal.

Your vote is needed, but note that the question you are voting on is "Do you like novelties?" You must vote No to oppose these highrises and protect the traditional skyline of Milan.

I don't think the avant-gardist establishment will be satisfied until every city in Europe has a skyline designed by Thom Mayne, Daniel Libeskind, and Zaha Hadid. Let's preserve the few remaining traditional skylines in the world.

Charles Siegel

Ron Herron's "Walking City"

Doesn't anybody remember Ron Herron's "Walking City" of the 60's and 70's. This is right on par. Just another in a line of idiotic dreams that become reality. Just because we CAN, do you think that we SHOULD?

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