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Jean Nouvel selected to build next Paris landmark

Latest update : 2008-05-27

French architect Jean Nouvel, creator of the Arab World Institute and the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, was selected from among the world top's architects to build the Signal tower in the French capital's business district La Defense.

Paris officials will Tuesday pick between some of the world's top architects to build a landmark new skyscraper on the city's western rim to rival the Eiffel Tower.
Tipped as favourite to clinch the mega-contract in the La Defense business district is Frenchman Jean Nouvel, whose rectangular white tower mixing offices, flats, hotel rooms and shops aims to become a hub for local life.
But Nouvel, who won this year's Pritzker Architecture Prize, the industry's top award, faces world-class competition for the "Signal Tower" project, part of a wide-ranging plan to rejuvenate the half-century old business quarter.
Also in the running are British designer Norman Foster and the American Daniel Libeskind -- chosen to rebuild Ground Zero, the site of the September 11 attacks -- as well as the Frenchmen Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Jacques Ferrier.
Each backed by a separate group of investors, the five projects would tower at around 300 metres (990 feet) high -- rivalling the Eiffel Tower which soars 324 metres above the Paris skyline.
La Defense's first building, a vast shell-shaped white dome called the CNIT, was built in 1958, while another landmark, the Great Arch was built in the axis of the Champs Elysees Avenue and Arc de Triomphe in 1989.
Europe's largest business district, La Defense is used by 400,000 people each day, is home to 2,500 company headquarters as well as 20,000 residents, but it has often been criticised as a cold, faceless place to live and work.
Seventeen buildings are scheduled for demolition by 2013, to be replaced by new skyscrapers, shops, parks and cycle lanes, as part of a renovation plan overseen by a French public body, the EPAD.
The "Signal Tower" is the second major skyscraper project to be launched in La Defense since 2006, when US architect Thom Mayne won a contract to build a soaring structure called "Le Phare" (The Lighthouse), due for delivery in 2012.
Strict building regulations have until now kept most high-rises firmly outside the Paris city walls -- with a few notable exceptions such as the Tour Montparnasse which rises 180 metres over the southwest of the capital.
But Paris's Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe has sparked controversy by suggesting a handful of skyscrapers could be built just inside the city walls, to revitalise run-down parts of the capital.

Date created : 2008-05-27