The southwestern edge of Paris, Porte de Versailles, is a sprawling urban area with classical Parisian low-rises and very few indications of modernity. That will change soon: the city has approved construction of the Tour Triangle, a 180-meter skyscraper that looks like a cross between Giza and Star Trek.
Government-approved and privately financed, the Tour Triangle will contain offices, a 120-room four-star hotel, conference areas, a “sky bar,” and cultural centers. Designed by Swiss firm Herzog & De Meuron, which also crafted Beijing’s Olympic stadiums, the wedge will stand 590 feet tall — modest compared against icons like New York’s Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower. But it’s also a shiny pyramid in Paris, so you can’t ignore it.
The Tour Triangle will be the first major skyscraper for the city since 1973, when the divisive Tour Montparnasse was completed. With its modern design, Montparnasse stood out like a scarecrow in a corn field; two years later, the city banned high-rises. The ban has now been lifted in areas outside Paris’ major city center, allowing the Tour Triangle and others like it to start rising.
Locals aren’t happy. “The Paris of tomorrow cannot be built according to the recipes of yesterday,” wrote the Collective Against Tour Triangle, in a statement on its website. Parisians generally don’t cotton to ultra-modern architecture: They even hated the Eiffel Tower. Though some champion for Paris’ effort to modernize, the Tour Triangle project has been criticized for energy inefficiency, possibly being a nuisance to public transportation, and by clashing with the local aesthetic. Plus, no one likes living in the literal shadows of a new wall of mirrors.
Of course, this wouldn’t be the only shiny pyramid in Paris. The Louvre Palace wasn’t without controversy when it opened in 1989, but citizens have warmed up to it since.
Construction is expected to begin next year and to finish by 2020.