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Utopian Vision and Starchitecture Set to Transform Paris

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A Parisian collective of architects, Et Alors, have recently been busy imagining an alternate future for their home city. Their utopian vision is aimed at adapting the urban landscape to address climate change, both by accounting for the increase in temperature and by reducing the city's contribution to additional warming. Some of their solutions, like the commuter airships, are little far fetched, but the broad strokes of their plans seem to make plenty of sense: what modern city wouldn't benefit from more green space, cleaner waterways, or more accessible public transit? Still, with these plans aimed at the year 2100, there's little chance we'd see a Paris like this. Good thing contemporary starchitects have the their sights set on the City of Lights. Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, and Herzog & de Meuron all have plans in the works for snazzy new buildings in Paris. (And, yes, we're intentionally ignoring that heinous Russian-style cathedral that may blight views of the Eiffel Tower.)

? France's own Jean Nouvel won approval in 2008 for a monolithic tower to rise adjacent to the angular Arche de la Défense. Dubbed Tour Signal, the mixed-use skyscraper will contain four, multi-story atria with interior balconies designed to bring light—if not air—into the heart of the building. We can't say we're sold on the elemental themes for those atria, but the tall, narrow windows win points for their similarity to Minoru Yamasaki's World Trade Center towers. The Tour Signal is slated for completion in 2013.

? Another new building slated for the La Défense district, the Generali Tower, has had its completion date pushed back to 2014, but that probably won't make the environmentally friendly structure any less revolutionary. The tower will house 18 vertically oriented wind turbines, 18,300 square feet of photovoltaic cells, and another 6,460 square feet of solar panels. For some green "green" tech, gardens will be included on all levels. The architecture firm of Valode & Pistre might not have the name recognition of a Nouvel or Gehry, but if they keep designing this level of strikingly sustainable structures, they may soon enjoy wider renown.

? Pritzker Prize-winning duo Herzog & de Meuron also revealed a design for the Parisian skyline back in 2008, but until this month it was tangled up in red tape. With construction now approved, the slender pyramid known as the Triangle Project should be completed by 2017; it's the first new skyscraper in the heart of Paris in 40 years.

? Red tape and community resistance has also dogged Frank Gehry's design for a private museum to house the collections of LVMH and its chairman, the billionaire Bernard Arnault. Earlier this month, the French Senate finally voted to approve construction after the courts sided with community organizers. Now that the museum will be built after all, it might behoove Gehry to quit referring to Parisians as "individualistic, uncouth philistines" who "want to put Paris into formalin."
· paris +2° [Et Alors via Treehugger]
· Architects Decide to Build Russian Cathedral Next to Eiffel Tower [Curbed National]
· Tour Signal by Jean Nouvel [Dezeen]
· Paris’ Green Generali Tower to Rule La Defense [Inhabitat]
· Project Triangle by Herzog & de Meuron [Inhabitat]
· Paris To Get Gehry's LVMH Museum Afterall [Arts Journal]
· World's top architect Frank Gehry brands Paris residents 'philistines' after planning permission revoked [Telegraph]