|File:Tour Montparnasse June 2010.jpg|
33 Avenue du Maine |
|Completed||1969 - 1973|
|Roof||210 m (690 ft)|
|Floor area||88,400 m2 (952,000 sq ft)|
|Design and construction|
Eugène Élie Beaudouin
Louis-Gabriel de Hoÿm de Marien
A. Epstein and Sons International
Tour Maine-Montparnasse (Maine-Montparnasse Tower), also commonly named Tour Montparnasse, is a 210-metre (689 ft) office skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area of Paris, France. Constructed from 1969 to 1972, it was the tallest skyscraper in France until 2011, when it was surpassed by the 231 m (758 ft) Tour First. As of June 2013[update], it is the 14th tallest building in the European Union. The tower was designed by architects Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan and Louis Hoym de Marien and built by Campenon Bernard.
Built on top of the Montparnasse – Bienvenüe Paris Métro station, the 59 floors of the tower are mainly occupied by offices. The 56th floor, with a restaurant called le Ciel de Paris, and the terrace on the top floor, are open to the public for viewing the city. In April 2012, the 56th floor and the restaurant were closed for renovations but reopened in June 7, 2012; the terrace remains open to the public. The view covers a radius of 40 km (25 mi); aircraft can be seen taking off from Orly Airport. The guard rail, to which various antennae are attached, can be pneumatically lowered in just two minutes to allow helicopters to land. At the time of construction, it was the tallest building in Europe by roof height. The construction of La Grande Arche in La Défense places the tower in a second line of perspective across Paris: see Axe historique.
The tower's simple architecture, large proportions and monolithic appearance have been often criticised for being out of place in Paris's urban landscape. As a result, two years after its completion the construction of buildings over seven storeys high in the city centre was banned.
The design of the tower predates architectural trends of more modern skyscrapers today that are often designed to provide a window for every office. Only the offices around the perimeter of each floor of Tour Montparnasse have windows.
It is sometimes said that the view from the top is the most beautiful in Paris, because it is the only place from which the tower itself cannot be seen.
Climbing the tower
In 1995, French urban climber, Alain "Spiderman" Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices of any kind, scaled the building's exterior glass and steel wall to the top, almost falling in the process.
In 2005, studies showed that the tower contained asbestos material. When inhaled, for instance during repairs, asbestos is a carcinogen. As with the Jussieu Campus, the problem of removing the asbestos material from a large building used by thousands of people is acute. Projected completion times for removal are three years if the building is emptied for the duration of the work and ten years if the building is not emptied. The removal of asbestos began in July 2007.
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