- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2008

PARIS — Paris unveiled plans on Thursday for a pyramid-shaped tower in the southwest of the capital, the first new high-rise building to be built for 30 years.

Designed by Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the tower will stand near the Porte de Versailles congress center south of the Eiffel and Montparnasse towers - the two giants of today’s Paris skyline and both taller than the proposed pyramid.

A major high-rise complex has sprung up in La Defense business park west of the capital, but tower blocks have been banned inside Paris proper under a 1977 rule. The Paris city council in July overturned the ban, which limited the height of inner-city buildings to 122 feet, and launched plans for new towers at six emblematic sites just inside the city walls.

The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, said the project, financed by property developer Unibail with completion set for 2012, combines high-quality environmental performance with a design of “astonishing beauty.”

Construction on the tower is due to begin in 18 months. Plans call for a sharp pyramid measuring up to 660 feet that will hold offices, a conference center and possibly a hotel, following a public consultation.

Part of wide-ranging regeneration plans, the towers are to mix shops, offices and child care centers under plans championed by Mr. Delanoe despite hostility from green politicians and many Paris residents.

The 1977 ceiling was enacted to halt to a string of high-rise projects, including the Montparnasse tower, that quickly were seen as failed urbanism experiments.

Mr. Delanoe has promised that city officials will “not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

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