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Touch the Sky

7 years ago by

Touch the Sky

Which skyline do you love more: Paris or New York?

Of course we love New York — we’re constantly inspired just by looking up! But the historic bridges and manicured gardens of Paris are so beautiful. It’s what makes it so unique: while other cities have been fighting to building the highest skyscrapers in the world (shout out to you, Dubai!), Paris has preserved the flatter and more charming approach. Since the mid-1970s, buildings have been capped at seven stories high.
(In New York, we’d call that tiny quaint.)


Now, it’s all about to chance — Herzog & de Meuron (the Swiss company who designed the Beijing Olympic stadium along with a gazillion other landmark buildings worldwide) just won planning permission to build a skyscraper in the Porte de Versailles. As Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a-changin’…”

Tour Triangle (you know a building means business when it has a name) will be 42 stories, making it the third tallest in the city. Some say it will bring new jobs to the city, while others argue it will usher in an era of unwanted expansion. If you remember how contentious installing the Louvre Pyramid was, then you know how divisive this skyscraper is could be…

So, what do you think? Is it time for Paris to elevate (pun intended) their skyline, or should they keep things low-key?


Add yours
  • I think each skyline is different & represents the culture surrounding it. Wish I could see the building in Porte de Versailles when I head there in August. Darn it! :]

    // ? itsCarmen.com ?

  • Jennifer July, 8 2015, 5:22 / Reply

    Not sure I like the idea of 42 stories especially in Paris. Doesn’t seem fitting somehow.

  • Liza Actis July, 8 2015, 5:57 / Reply

    First time in Paris and I was stunned at the city’s beauty. The height and character of the buildings in Paris should remain…I hope this is the exception and not the rule with regard to building height.

  • submareen July, 8 2015, 6:10 / Reply

    As a french architect, I think that the issue with this project is not about the skyline. In fact, there are amazing well designed and really high towers all around the world, and even in Paris it could be wonderful to have some of these wonderful buildings transforming the skyline and playing with horizontality. But when you look at the project on the ground-floor, you realize that it is everything but a tower: it becomes a really long and imposing building that cuts and divides the space. I just feel sad that such “good” swiss architects managed to design such a bad tower in 2015, that is, let’s remember, less a tower than a really high building with long floors that become thiner and thiner while tempting to reach the sky… It was such a good opportunity to bring some changes in Paris, but I keep wondering what Herzog & De Meuron had for lunch when they came up with this design…a slice of flammekueche? (Sorry, I couldn’t help it !)

  • I absolutely do agree with you, this is not a tower but a chunky building, that will never have this dynamic reaching the sky a tower has.

    And the 3D is absolutely misleading as the edges of the tower are semi-transparent, totally changing the perception of the tower, giving it an airiness, a kind of lightness it will never have.

  • I totally agree with you, this is not a tower!
    The problem is that, just because the architects are Herzog & De Meuron, a couple of contemporary “starchitects”, people say yes to any project they conceive, even though they are too expensive or too much for the city’s skyline. I usually love their architecture, but I believe this tower is definitely not their best work and I think it is not the kind of architecture for Paris (too chunky, too much!). It will be like the Philarmonie, everybody fights for it for years, it costs an enourmous amount of money, and then when it is finished, people ask “what the hell was the architect thinking when he/she drew this?!”
    As an architect, I must say that new architecture has not yet its place in Paris (you can check out what happened with La Samaritaine project from SANAA Architects, or Roland Garros from Marc Mimram, Chaix & Morel and ACD Girardet – rather delicate beautiful projects, not at all like this massive tower). These two projects I just mentioned suffer from public opinion, who prefers “Haussmanian” buildings instead of new architecture. I truly believe that projects like the Tour Triangle don’t help Parisians to embrace new architecture nor the contemporary architects.

  • I agree. I think it’s wrong to build a badly fitting building that will stay there for dozens of years (and maybe initiate a trend) just so you can claim to be the first one. Oh so innovative!

  • An other problem is the fonction of the building : offices ! No living project around and inside. Old fashioned building… Sad !

  • Well Porte de Versailles is not the most gorgeous area of town. So why not..,

  • I can’t choose! they’re so different! I love Paris because of the history and NY because of the energy


  • I think they were right to want to prevent sun blocking skyscrapers. In NYC, there’s no point fighting it at this point, but Parisians shouldn’t let the landlords strong-arm the city into allowing out of place development.

  • Clotilde July, 9 2015, 12:51 / Reply

    Oui voilà, la porte de Versailles c’est loin du centre, donc bon, on s’en fout un peu non ?

  • Interesting timing – there is a vote on what is called “freedom of panorama” in European parliament today: are you allowed to take pictures of buildings, sculptures, etc that are located somewhere in a public area – or should they be “protected” by copyright law? Other European countries do have a much more liberal take on this than France…

    And let’s not forget that there are other beautiful skylines apart from Paris and New York…
    London’s skyline, for example, combines a range of beauties both modern and old.

  • London FTW!

  • Louise July, 9 2015, 3:19 / Reply

    L’aspect clivant de la tour triangle ne vient pas du projet architectural… Mais du fait qu’il s’agit de la construction d’un immeuble de bureaux dans une ville qui manque cruellement de logements. Rien à voir avec la polémique de la pyramide du Louvre donc, ce n’est pas une nouvelle querelle entre les anciens et des modernes, mais c’est une polémique sur les priorités politiques, qui ne sont pas forcément là où on les attendait de la part d’une mairie “socialiste” ! ;-)

  • elodie alunni July, 9 2015, 3:58 / Reply

    Il est grand temps que Paris évolue. Quand on pense que certains veulent faire démonter la Tour Eiffel!!!

  • Elevate please!!!!! seriously, I love Paris but enough with the whole museum situation. It almost feels like people there are living in another era altogether. More jobs = better place for young people :). xx

  • Hmmm, I don’t know. All I know is I really love the airy yet old world character of Paris, and while one well designed skyscraper is not going to change that, a whole lot of follow-on concrete towers certainly will.
    My favourite skyline is the skyline of Cape Town, South Africa. No building beats the view of the iconic Table Mountain Range overlooking the ocean, so sorry, Paris and New York ;).

  • Well, if you ask me, I would prefer the “Old World” architecture to the “New World” race up to the sky any day. The reason is that I feel like a person gets lost amid those ever taller scyscrapers while these “quaint” houses seem to hold a piece of history and have a personal touch to them. Still I can imagine where scyscrapers will look good and in harmony with the suroundings. But I do not find it to be the case with Tour Triangle in Paris. It looks so much out of place.

  • Caroline July, 9 2015, 8:41 / Reply

    Heu, des immeubles qui font plus de 7 étages, des tours et des barres HLM il y en a dans Paris suffit d’aller dans le 13e arrondissement. Moi, je veux bien que d’autres tours soient construites si cela pouvait permettre de réduire le prix de la location dans Paris intra-muros mais ce la m’étonnerait fort.

  • I like the NY skyline more and Paris for its charm! They both should remain the way they are


  • Angeline July, 9 2015, 3:18 / Reply


  • Benedicte July, 9 2015, 4:42 / Reply

    Oh non, je me sens oppressée, entourée de tours, comme à New-York (et je ne parle pas de Shanghai). Je veux que Paris reste une ville à dimension humaine.

  • Paris est une ville architecturalement très emmerdante : tous les quartiers se ressemblent, l’architecture innovante est refusée, l’innovation aussi, la nature aussi. Berlin ou Londres sont tellement rafraichissantes à côté.
    Je n’aime pas ce qu’on appelle “les concours de bite” des architectes qui existent depuis des siècles (ça a commencé en Toscane https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maison-tour_toscane), c’est à dire les délires des architectes masculins à créer la tour la plus haute, dans des quartiers où seule la tour émerge, et non dans une forêt ou un bosquet de buildings. C’est tellement phallique ! So cliché.

  • I love the NYC skyline, but I’m afraid for it. I feel like we have so many buildings coming up now that just look like awful, boring high rises (like that godawful skinny, massively tall apartment building they’re putting up on Park Ave that sticks out of a low lying part of the skyline like a sore thumb). Not to get all “they don’t build them like they used to,” but…seriously. Look at the Chrysler Building and then look at One57. I’m also not a fan of the Freedom Tower’s design.

    I feel like a lot of native NYers like myself have a very deep and complicated relationship with the skyline because of 9/11 as well. I am rarely able to look at the Lower Manhattan skyline without at least a small part of my brain briefly visualizing where the towers are supposed to be.

  • C’est un peu difficile et superficiel de juste se demander si cette “tour” vous plaît ou pas. Les questions et débat que ce projet a fait ressortir sont beaucoup plus profondes et vastes que la polémique qui entoure l’objet architectural crée par des architectes tellement sur-évalués qu’ils en ont perdu la tête. Il’ s’agit de questions de société, comme dit plus haut – de la pénurie de logement à Paris, de la facilité avec laquelle Mme Hidalgo cède devant des intérêts financiers privés… Moi en tant qu’architecte française je vois une opération qui vise à créer des mètres carrrés destinés à être vendus très cher au bénéfices financiers monstrueux de certains, donc une affaire purement financière et lucrative qu’on doit avaler sous couverture d’innovation architecturale et déguisement dessiné par des architectes ultra-connus qui servent d’alibi. Il serait naïf de croire que l’image de synthèse tant diffusée correspondra à la réalité. Le résultat construit sera beaucoup plus lourd et présent que cette perspective faussement évanescente qui nous vend une transparence qui n’existera pas… Le débat n’est donc pas si la hauteur sera génante à Paris. Elle existé déjà en plein de variantes à La Défense. Je vous suggère Neada en amatrice d’architecture de jeter un regard sur les articles parus sur la question dans la presse française. Vous vous rendrez vite compte de la réalité de l’affaire et de la profondeur du problème .

  • Non, non, non !!!!!! Je suis dégoûtée, Paris ce n’est pas NY… Autant j’adore les buildings new-yorkais, autant à Paris, je préfère le côté moins haut, plus terre-à-terre…C’est un peu la fin d’une époque :/


  • Pour moi c’est une horreur qui va défigurer le quartier. You can have an opinion about the architecture but would you like to see that from your window? The people who live there won’t see the sun anymore.

  • Pour moi le problème est de rajouter de la densité aux portes de la capitale déjà la plus dense d’Europe. Et donc des soucis de transport, de pollution. De plus les tours ont un coût de consommation énergétique supérieur au m2, etc, etc.

  • PLEASE NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! thaaaaaaats exactly what we LOVE about Paris!!!!

  • Keep things low key. Paris has a beautiful unique charm. I used to think NYC was the most amazing skyline and only one like it in the world…that is until I saw Japan’s. But after a while all the modern architecture looks the same…not to be described as “beautiful” or “unique” and definitely not “charming”…

    Paris. Keep things low key.

  • Chicago for the skyline ! not NYC…..

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