Empire State of Mind? Paris Approves of Controversial New Skyscraper

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It seems as though the City of Lights will soon look more like the Big Apple.

At least, that’s the concern many Parisians share after the Paris City Council on Tuesday approved plans for a 42-story skyscraper in the 15th arrondissement, close to the Eiffel Tower. The Independent reports that the Tour Triangle (or “Triangle Tower”) will be the first skyscraper built in the city since the 59-story Tour Montparnasse was built in the early 1970s.

Paris is known for its low-level architecture. Outside of the Eiffel Tower, there are very few buildings in Paris that are considered formidable by modern standards. The Tour First, the second tallest building in Paris, is 758 feet high — a modest height compared to the buildings of other major international cities such as New York and Beijing. To put it in perspective, the Empire State Building is 1454 feet tall, close to twice the height of the Tour First and still taller than the Eiffel Tower, which is only 986 feet, and yet is just the third largest tower in New York.

In contrast, the Tour Triangle, just 590 feet tall, has caused controversy in Paris since initial plans were revealed in 2008. Many Parisians are proud of the fact that the city’s skyline is unsullied by tall buildings and want to keep it that way. Herzog and de Meuron, the building’s architects, have had to battle against public opinion as well as an initial city council vote in November 2014 in which the plans were rejected.

According to the Swiss architecture firm, the tower will contain a four-star hotel, a restaurant (just one of 8,000 restaurants in Paris), a sky bar, and more than 750,000 square feet of office space and will create up to 5,000 new jobs. The building will have a sleek, modern design mostly composed of glass.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo is a supporter of the building, having dismissed last November’s vote as trivial and rife with inter-party squabbles. Right after Tuesday’s vote outcome was announced, she tweeted that she was “proud and happy that Triangle could be born in Paris.”

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