La Grande Arche de la Defense

La Grande Arche de la Defense, Failures and Successes

How did a skyscraper commissioned by a former Vichy regime member benefit Paris while also doing financial damage in the long run?

La Grande Arche de la Defense is a skyscraper built in Europe's largest business district, la Defense. During la Grande Arche's inception, la Defense was somewhat successful but it had little green space, lacked a full skyline, and did not look like it was in Paris. Former French prime minister, Francois Mitterand decided that he would commission a monumental skyscraper in the center of la Defensethat he wanted it to be a more modern version of l'arc de Triomphe. His goal was to make la Defense Europe's largest business district while also trying to preserve the aesthetics of Paris.

At first, la Defense followed the model of many American cities central business districts by dividing it with a highway, lacking green space, and having little guidelines on building aesthetics and placement.Francois Mitterand aimed to remedy these problems by adding a modern arc de Triomphe on le boulevard de Grand armee which is a road that lines up with the Champs Elysees. This meant that if you look at the arc de Triomphe from the Champs Elysees, then you will get a juxtaposition of Haussmann style buildings and older, smaller monuments with a larger modern arc and skyscrapers in the background.
La Grande Arche provides one of the best views in Paris as from the top of the building you can see most of the modern skyscrapers, while also having an unobstructed view down le boulevard de Grand Armee. This allows you to juxtapose the new Paris with the more famous, older, haussmann style Paris. It also provided a public plaza and eventually more green space was added (by burying roads) so most of the previous issues with la Defense were being remedied. La Grande Arche also made la Defense look more Parisian as there was a monument on a long straight boulevard, with buildings radiating from the central point of the monument.

La Grande Arche did not come without its failures. It was very expensive to build due to its unique shape and large size. Elevators, windows, and mold problems have added to the growing list of expensive repairs to this building. It lacks green space although it makes up for this by having a large public plaza. Also due to the design of the building, it is difficult to make your money back on rent as the building takes up a large footprint in an expensive part of the city while not allowing a lot of office space. The building also has issues with businesses at the top due to elevator problems, and issues with the structure at the top. There was a 5 star restaurant at the top part of the tower, but it was forced to move a year after the tower opened and there are no signs that it will return to this site.
In conclusion, la Grande Arche was a mixed bag as it skyrocketed la defense into Europe's largest business district, but it did this at the cost of some very valuable land and millions of dollars of repairs every year. Finally, the monument anchored la Defense, and helped create a central business district that still makes you feel like you are in Paris.



1 Parvais de la Defense, 92800 Puteaux, France