La Défense in Paris
La Défense (pronounced ) is a major business district of the Paris aire urbaine. With a population of 20,000, it is centered in an orbital motorway straddling the Hauts-de-Seine département municipalities of Nanterre, Courbevoie and Puteaux. The district is at the westernmost extremity of Paris's 10 km long Historical Axis, which starts at the Louvre in Central Paris and continues along the Champs-Élysées, well beyond the Arc de Triomphe before culminating at La Défense.
Around its 110 m-high Grande Arche and esplanade ("le Parvis"), the district holds many of the Paris urban area's tallest high-rises. With its 77.5 acre, its 72 glass-and-steel slick buildings including 14 high-rises above 150 m, its 180,000 daily workers and 3.5 million square metres (37.7 million sq ft) of office space, La Défense is Europe's largest purpose-built business district. La Défense is seen as comparable to Canary Wharf in London: both are spaces where "statements of corporate ambition can be made", without thereby encroaching on the historical quarters of the city.
La Défense is named after the iconic statue La Défense de Paris, which was erected in 1883 to commemorate the soldiers who had defended Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.
In September 1958, The Public Establishment for Installation of La Défense (EPAD) buildings (of which the Esso Tower was the very first) were built and began to slowly replace the city's factories, shanties, and even a few farms. The Center of New Industries and Technologies (CNIT) was built and first used in 1958. These "first generation" skyscrapers were all very similar in appearance, limited to a height of 100 m. In 1966, the Nobel Tower was the first office building built in the area. In 1970 the RER line A railway was opened from La Défense to Étoile. In 1974 a contract for a Défense-Cergy high-speed hovercraft train was signed and soon abandoned.
In the early 1970s, in response to great demand, a second generation of buildings began to appear, but the economic crisis in 1973 nearly halted all construction in the area. A third generation of towers began to appear in the early 1980s. The biggest commercial centre in Europe (at the time), the Quatre Temps, was created in 1981. In 1982, the EPAD launched the Tête Défense competition to find a monument to complete the Axe historique, which eventually led to the construction of Grande Arche at the west end of the quarter. During the same period, hotels were constructed, the CNIT was restructured, and in 1992 Line 1 of the Paris Métro was extended to La Défense, which made the area readily accessible to even more of the city.
On Bastille Day 1990, French electronic composer Jean Michel Jarre staged an ambitious concert at the site, using the Grande Arche and three of the area's towers as projection screens, and building a pyramidal stage above the road. The free concert, titled simply Paris la Defense attracted two million spectators, stretching all the way back to the Arc de Triomphe. This beat Jarre's own previous world record for the largest attendance for a musical concert.
After a stagnation in new development in the mid-1990s La Défense is once again expanding and is now the largest purpose-built business district in Europe.
Important corporations headquartered at La Défense include Neuf Cegetel, Société Générale, Total, Aventis, Areva and Arcelor. The tallest skyscraper, the Tour First belongs to AXA, constructed in 1974. It is 231 m high, has 50 floors, and is the highest inhabited building in the Paris area (a title previously held by the Tour Montparnasse, which was the tallest inhabited building until the Tour First was renovated between 2007 and 2011, bringing it to its current height from a previous 159 m; the tallest building in Paris is the Eiffel Tower).
On 9 September 2008, La Défense celebrated its 50th birthday with a huge fireworks display.
In December 2005, , CEO & Chairman of EPAD (La Defense Management & Development Office) announced an ambitious 9-year development plan called .This important modernisation plan has to give a new dimension to the district and focuses on four main axes: regenerate outdated skyscrapers, allow new buildings, improve the balance between offices and residential housing and make the transport of local employees from their homes to La Défense easier. There are 3 aims: building 150 000 square metres (1 600 000 sq ft) of offices within demolition/rebuilding projects, building 300 000 square metres (3 200 000 sq ft) of offices within new projects and building 100 000 square metres ( 1 100 000 sq ft) of housing. The government confirmed in July 2006 this plan which has to be carried out around 2015. It is justified by the strong estate pressure, which plays in favour of building new skyscrapers near Paris. Those constructions have also the advantage to be more economical than little buildings. But it will have to overcome some difficulties: French economy faces a short-term slowdown; the government tries to balance tertiary sector employment in the whole region again, because La Défense today concentrates a major part of those jobs; and traffic is already saturated in the district, while it would need huge investments to extend transport infrastructures. It launched high profile international competitions and/or construction greenlight of several key 300 to tall sustainable development-style skyscrapers such as Tour Signal, Tour Phare, Hermitage Plaza and Tour Generali. During said December 2005 Press Conference, EPAD released to the public an elaborate 3D animation film titled "La Défense 2015".
- Divided into 12 sectors
- 400 acre
- 3500000 m2 of offices
- 1,500 businesses (of which 14 from the national top 20 and 15 from the global top 50)
- 150,000 employees
- 20,000 residents
- 210000 m2 of shops (including the 120000 m2 Quatre Temps Shopping Mall, the largest in Continental Europe)
- 2,600 hotel rooms
- 310000 m2 of flagstone and sidewalk
- 110000 m2 of greenery
- 60 modern art sculptures and monuments
La Défense tallest towers
Completed highrise buildings above 90 m (300 ft) (1967–2008)
|1||Tour First (ex AXA, ex Assur)||1974/2010||office||231||787||55||Courbevoie|
|3||Tour T1 (GDF Suez)||2008||office||185||610||37||Courbevoie|
|5||Tour Granite (Société Générale)||2008||office||183||603||37||Nanterre|
|7||Tour Alicante (Société Générale)||1995||office||167||548||37||Nanterre|
|Tour Chassagne (Société Générale)||1995||office||167||548||37||Nanterre|
|11||Tour Adria (Technip)||2002||office||155||509||40||Courbevoie|
|Tour Égée (Ernst&Young)||1999||office||155||509||40||Courbevoie|
|15||Tour Défense 2000||1974||residential||136||446||46||Puteaux|
|17||Tour Descartes (IBM)||1988||office||130||427||40||Courbevoie|
|18||Tour Les Poissons||1970||mixed||128||420||42||Courbevoie|
|21||Tour Sequoia (Bull, Cegetel, SFR)||1990||office||119||390||33||Puteaux|
|23||Tour Michelet (Total)||1985||office||117||384||34||Puteaux|
|Préfecture des Hauts-de-Seine||1974||office||113||371||25||Nanterre|
|27||Grande Arche||1989||monument, office||110||361||37||Puteaux|
|32||Tour Nuage 1, Tours Aillaud||1976||residential||105||344||39||Nanterre|
|Tour Nuage 2, Tours Aillaud||1976||residential||105||344||39||Nanterre|
|40||Tour Prisma (Tour Kvaerner)||1998||office||97||318||25||Courbevoie|
Upcoming highrise buildings (2010–2016)
|Name||Use||Height||Levels||Municipality||Status (2008)||Estimated Year of Completion|
|Hermitage Plaza II||mix||323||1,060||93||Courbevoie||approved||2016|
|Hermitage Plaza I||mix||323||1,060||91||Courbevoie||approved||2016|
|Tour Air²||office||202||720||43||Courbevoie|| approved