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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 13:36 GMT
Paris skyscraper to rival tower
A drawing of the winning project The Lighthouse
The new Lighthouse skyscraper will be almost as tall as the Eiffel Tower
Paris has chosen an American architect to build the French capital's tallest new building since the Eiffel Tower in the 19th Century.

The new curving skyscraper will be the centrepiece of a redevelopment project in the north-west of Paris.

Thom Mayne's Los Angeles-based company Morphosis beat off rivals as prestigious as the UK's Norman Foster and France's Jean Nouvel.

Building regulations have kept tall buildings out of Paris for 30 years.

One notable exception is the Tour Montparnasse which rises 180 metres (590 ft) in the south-west of the capital.

An international jury announced the winner, following a contest organised by French property group Unibail as part of a project to revamp La Defense business district.

The Paris city government opposes plans for a new skyscraper in the district, but the project is backed by French public body EPAD, which is in charge of the district's wider renovation, AFP news agency reports.


At 300 metres (990 ft), the Lighthouse will come a close second to the Eiffel Tower, which rises to 324 metres.

Eiffel Tower: 324 metres
The Lighthouse: 300 metres
Montparnasse: 180 metres

It is due to be completed in 2012 and will cost an estimated 800m euros ($1.05bn) to build.

Its twin structure will combine a rectangular base with a soaring, organic-shaped tower, capped by a field of wind turbines.

Unibail described the project as an "architectural event... that pays tribute to the major buildings in La Defense - the CNIT and the Great Arch".

Last year, Thom Mayne was awarded the Pritzker prize, the world's top architecture award.

"It's about an icon, and one of the major buildings in Paris," he said of the winning project.

He added the building would be "a prototype for a green building" with a wind farm generating its own heating and a "double skin" of steel and glass to a self-cooling mechanism for the hotter months.

His works include Los Angeles' new mass transit hub, the Taipei Design Centre and Seoul's Sun Tower.


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