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Local Matters / Architecture & Landmarks

Roof of Grande Arche de La Defense Will Re-open to the Public in June

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The rooftop of the Grande Arche de La Defense is to re-open to the public in June, having been closed since 2010. With the re-opening comes a new photo exhibition and the return of an unparalleled view of Greater Paris.

It was built in 1989 at a time when the world was going through seismic changes. Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen purposely designed it (though he did not see through its construction) as a reinvention of the Arche de Triomphe, embodying humanitarian rather than military ideals.

Sitting in the middle of Europe’s largest dedicated business neighborhood it will soon see a higher tourist footfall as its rooftop becomes accessible again for the first time since 2010. Stephanie Sinclair, an American photographer and head of its new photo exhibition, will inaugurate the re-opening on June 15.

Renovation began in 2015 to create a panoramic viewing deck, a restaurant and 1,200 m2 of exhibition space, as well as refurbish the exterior and elevators. The works have been organised by Valode & Pistre, part of Eiffage, and were co-funded with the French state in a private-public-partnership (PPP). Jean Pistre, co-founder of Valode & Pistre, explained some of the problems faced during the process.

“Access was never easy. We didn’t know what we were working with up there and the construction never had a definitive purpose. The elevators stopped working with the slightest wind.”

The building is currently under-occupied, too. Insurance giant AXA and the French Caisse des Depots occupy the north pillar, while the south houses the Ministry of Ecology and Housing. This renovation will ensure that the monument can live up to its potential, as befitting its prestige according to Piestre.

“The building is iconic for La Defense, Paris, and the whole world, and has cemented its place as a pivotal part of the history of architecture.” He called it a “symbol of a golden era when the state undertook magnificent construction projects.”

image © Flickr

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