Tour Maine-Montparnasse (Maine-Montparnasse Tower), also commonly named Tour Montparnasse, is a 210-metre (689 ft) office skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area of Paris, France. Constructed from 1969 to 1973, it was the tallest skyscraper in France until 2011, when it was surpassed by the 231-metre (758 ft) Tour First in the La Défense business district west of Paris's city limits. It remains the tallest building in Paris proper and the third tallest in France, behind Tour First and Tour Hekla. As of July 2023, it is the 53rd-tallest building in Europe.

Tour Maine-Montparnasse
Tour Montparnasse in Montparnasse in June 2010
General information
TypeCommercial offices
Location33 Avenue du Maine
15th arrondissement
Paris, France
Coordinates48°50′32″N 2°19′19″E / 48.8421°N 2.3220°E / 48.8421; 2.3220
Construction started1969
Roof210 m (690 ft)
Technical details
Floor count60
Floor area88,400 m2 (952,000 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architect(s)Cabinet Saubot-Jullien
Eugène Élie Beaudouin
Louis-Gabriel de Hoÿm de Marien
Urbain Cassan
A. Epstein and Sons International
DeveloperWylie Tuttle

The tower was designed by architects Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan, and Louis Hoym de Marien and built by Campenon Bernard.[5] On 21 September 2017, Nouvelle AOM won a competition to redesign the building's façade.[6]

Description edit

Built on top of the Montparnasse–Bienvenüe Paris Métro station, the building has 59 floors.

The 56th floor, 200 m (660 ft) from the ground,[7] is home to Paris Montparnasse,[8] an observation deck owned by Magnicity, a French company which also operates the Berlin TV Tower in Berlin and 360 CHICAGO at the former John Hancock Center in Chicago.[9] Visitors to the observation deck can also visit the scenic rooftop terrace[10] or make reservations for the 56th-floor restaurant called Ciel de Paris.[11]

The view covers a radius of 40 km (25 mi); aircraft can be seen taking off from Orly Airport.

The guard rail, to which various antennae are attached, can be pneumatically lowered.

History edit

The project edit

In 1934, the old Montparnasse station located on the edges of the similarly named boulevard, opposite the Rue de Rennes, appeared ill-suited to traffic. The city of Paris planned to reorganize the district and build a new station. But the project, entrusted to Raoul Dautry (who would give his name to the square of the tower), met strong opposition and was cancelled.

In 1956, on the occasion of the adoption of the new master plan for the Paris traffic plan, the Société d'économie mixte pour l'Aménagement du secteur Maine Montparnasse (SEMMAM) was created, as well as the l'Agence pour l'Opération Maine Montparnasse (AOM). Their mission was to redevelop the neighbourhood, which required razing many streets, often dilapidated and unsanitary. The site then occupied up to 8 hectares (20 acres).

In 1958, the first studies of the tower were well launched, but the project was strongly criticized because of the height of the building. A controversy ensued, led by the Minister of Public Works Edgard Pisani, who obtained the support of André Malraux, then Minister of Culture under General de Gaulle which led to slowdowns in the project.[12]

However, the reconstruction of the Montparnasse station a few hundred metres south of the old one and the destruction of the Gare du Maine, which was included in the real estate project of the AOM, a joint agency which brought together the four architects: Urbain Cassan, Eugène Beaudouin and Louis de Hoÿm de Marien, was carried out from June 1966 to the spring of 1969 with the assistance of the architect Jean Saubot.

In 1968, André Malraux granted the building permit for the Tower to the AOM and work began that same year.[13] The project was spearheaded by the American real estate developer Wylie Tuttle, who enlisted a consortium of 17 French insurance companies and seven banks in the $140 million multiple-building project, but later distanced himself from the project until his 2002 obituary revealed that the building was his original "brainchild".[14][15][16][17]

In 1969, the decision to build a shopping centre was finally made, and Georges Pompidou, then President of the Republic, wanted to provide the capital with modern infrastructure. Despite a major controversy, the construction of the tower was started.

For geographer Anne Clerval, this construction symbolizes the service economy of Paris in the 1970s resulting from deindustrialization policies which, from the 1960s, favoured "bypassing by space the most working class strongholds at the time".[18]

Construction edit

Tour Montparnasse in comparison to other tall structures in Paris

The Tour Montparnasse was built between 1969 and 1973 on the site of the old Montparnasse station. The first stone was laid in 1970 and the inauguration took place in 1973.

The foundations of the tower are made up of 56 reinforced concrete pillars sinking 70 m (230 ft) underground. For urban planning reasons, the tower had to be built just above a metro line; and to avoid using the same support and weakening it, the metro structures were protected by a reinforced concrete shield. Long horizontal beams were installed in order to free up the space needed in the basement to fit out the tracks for trains.[19]

Occupation edit

Shopping Arcade of Tour Montparnasse

The tower is mainly occupied by offices. Various companies and organizations have settled in the tower:

The 56th floor, with its terrace, bars and restaurant, has been used for private or public events. During the 1980s and 1990s, the live National Lottery was cast on TF1 from the 56th floor.

Climbing the tower edit

French urban climber Alain Robert scaled the building's exterior glass and steel wall to the top twice, in 1995 and in 2015, both times using no equipment or safety devices.[21][22] The feat was also undertaken by Polish climber Marcin Banot in 2020 and 2023.[23][24]

Criticism edit

Tour Montparnasse next to the Eiffel Tower

The tower's simple architecture, large proportions and monolithic appearance have been often criticized by Parisians for being out of place in Paris's landscape.[25] As a result, two years after its completion the construction of buildings over seven storeys tall in the city centre was banned in Paris. This ban was lifted in 2015.[26][27]

The design of the tower predates architectural trends of more modern skyscrapers today that are often designed to provide a window for every office. Only the offices around the perimeter of each floor of Tour Montparnasse have windows.

It is said[who?] that the tower's observation deck enjoys the most beautiful view in all of Paris because it is the only place from which the tower cannot be seen.[28]

A 2008 poll of editors on Virtualtourist voted the building the second-ugliest building in the world, behind Boston City Hall in the United States.[29]

Asbestos contamination edit

In 2005, studies showed that the tower contained asbestos material. When inhaled, for instance during repairs, asbestos is a carcinogen. Monitoring revealed that legal limits of fibres per litre were surpassed and, on at least one occasion, reached 20 times the legal limit. Due to health and legal concerns, some tenants abandoned their offices in the building.[30]

Removal of the asbestos was originally expected to take three years.[citation needed] After a nearly three-year delay, removal began in 2009 alongside regular operation of the building. In 2012, it was reported the tower was 90% free of asbestos.[31]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Tour Montparnasse". CTBUH Skyscraper Center.
  2. ^ "Emporis building ID 110509". Emporis. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Tour Montparnasse". SkyscraperPage.
  4. ^ Tour Montparnasse at Structurae
  5. ^ "Tour Montparnasse". Vinci. 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  6. ^ Mairs, Jessica (2017). "Tour Montparnasse set to receive "green makeover" by Nouvelle AOM". Dezeen. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Top Paris restaurants with a view". Paris Digest. 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  8. ^ "L'Observatoire Panoramique de la Tour Montparnasse". Tour Montparnasse 56 (in French). Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  9. ^ Berg, Nate (26 July 2022). "443 feet and falling: why skyscrapers are adding slides, stairs, decks, and free falls". Fast Company. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  10. ^ "Getting to the Montparnasse Tower Observation Deck: metro, car, bus". Tour Montparnasse 56. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  11. ^ Ciel de Paris
  12. ^ "La Tour Montparnasse fête ses quarante ans... de désamour". Le HuffPost (in French). 18 June 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  13. ^ Batiactu (11 March 2008). "L'histoire de la tour Montparnasse (diaporama)". Batiactu (in French). Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  14. ^ Pace, Eric (6 April 2002). "Wylie F. L. Tuttle, 79, Force Behind Paris Tower". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  15. ^ "Bienvenue sur le site de Sefri-Cime". Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  16. ^ Marlowe, Lara. "Tour Montparnasse contaminated with asbestos". The Irish Times. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  17. ^ Louise Huxtable, Ada (28 May 2002). "The Myth of the Invulnerable Skyscraper". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Anne Clerval: "À Paris, le discours sur la mixité sociale a remplacé la lutte des classes"". L'Humanité (in French). 17 October 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  19. ^ Batiactu (11 March 2008). "L'histoire de la tour Montparnasse". Batiactu (in French). Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Address book." Accor. 17 October 2006. Retrieved on 19 March 2012. "Executive Management Tour Maine-Montparnasse 33, avenue du Maine 75755 Paris Cedex 15 France"
  21. ^ Ed Douglas, "Vertigo? No problem for Spiderman", Manchester Guardian Weekly, 11 May 1997, p. 30
  22. ^ "French "spiderman" climbs Paris skyscraper for Nepal". 29 April 2015. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  23. ^ "Polish tourist climbed Montparnasse". (in Polish). 19 September 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  24. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Climbing Montparnasse". YouTube (in Polish). 18 September 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  25. ^ Montparnasse Tower, a story of passion and hate since 40 years
  26. ^ Laurenson, John (18 June 2013). "Does Paris need new skyscrapers?". BBC News. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  27. ^ "Will Parisians embrace the city's first skyscraper since 1973?". Financial Times. 24 March 2016.
  28. ^ Ouroussoff, Nicolai (26 September 2008). "Architecture, Tear Down These Walls". New York Times. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  29. ^ Goldsmith, Belinda (14 November 2008). "Travel Picks: 10 top ugly buildings and monuments". Reuters. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  30. ^ Marlowe, Lara. "Tour Montparnasse contaminated with asbestos". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  31. ^ "Worksite Setup During Asbestos Removal Work on the Montparnasse Tower". Retrieved 6 March 2020.

External links edit

  Media related to Tour Montparnasse at Wikimedia Commons