Tour Montparnasse in Paris
Tour Maine-Montparnasse (Maine-Montparnasse Tower), also commonly named Tour Montparnasse, is a 210 m tall office skyscraper located in Paris, France, in the area of Montparnasse. Constructed from 1969 to 1972, it was the tallest skyscraper in France until 2011, when it was surpassed in height by the Tour First (231 m). It is currently the eleventh tallest building in the European Union.
Design and construction
The tower was designed by architects Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan and Louis Hoym de Marien and built by Campenon Bernard.
Built on top of the Montparnasse – Bienvenüe Paris Métro station, the 59 floors of the tower are mainly occupied by offices. The 56th floor, with a restaurant, and the terrace on the top floor, are open to the public for viewing the city. The view covers a radius of 40 km; aircraft can be seen taking off from Orly Airport. The guard rail, to which various antennae are attached, can be pneumatically lowered in just two minutes to allow helicopters to land. At the time of construction, it was the tallest building in Europe by roof height. The construction of La Grande Arche in La Défense places the tower in a second line of perspective across Paris: see Axe historique.
The tower's simple architecture, large proportions and monolithic appearance have been often criticised for being out of place in Paris's urban landscape and, as a result, two years after its completion, the construction of skyscrapers in the city centre was banned.
The design of the tower predates architectural trends that placed high importance on a view of the outside, and so only offices around the perimeter of each floor have windows (more modern skyscrapers are often designed to provide a window for every office).
It is sometimes said, half-jokingly, that the view from the top is the most beautiful in Paris, because it is the only place from which one cannot see the tower.
A 2008 poll of editors on Virtualtourist voted the building the second-ugliest building in the world.
Climbing the tower
In 1995, French urban climber, Alain "Spiderman" Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices of any kind, scaled the building's exterior glass and steel wall to the top but almost fell.
In 2005, studies showed that the tower contained asbestos material. When inhaled, for instance during repairs, asbestos is a carcinogen. As with the Jussieu Campus, the problem of removing the asbestos material from a large building used by thousands of people is acute. Projected completion times for removal are three years if the building is emptied for the duration of the work and ten years if the building is not emptied.
The removal of asbestos began in July 2007.
- List of tallest buildings and structures in the Paris region