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Design trio to transform Paris' most controversial building

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One of Paris’ most controversial buildings is set to undergo a green-tinged transformation, with three architecture studios joining forces to comprehensively renovate the Tour Montparnasse skyscraper.

The monolithic glass and steel building, which climbs 209m (685.6ft) into the sky, provoked a public outcry when it was completed in 1973 and is widely considered to be out of place in the city’s urban landscape. The negative reaction was so strong, the city chose to ban the construction of any building over seven storeys-high – a restriction that has only recently been loosened.

In June last year, the tower's owners organised an architecture competition to improve the building’s image, attracting entries from high-profile firms including OMA, Studio Gang Dominique Perrault and MAD Architects.

However, the project has been awarded to a joint venture, called Nouvelle AOM, formed by Franklin Azzi of Franklin Azzi Architecture; Fréderic Chartier and Pascale Dalix from Chartier Dalix; and Mathurin Hardel and Cyrille Le Bihan of Hardel + Le Bihan Architectes.

The group won over the judges with their proposal to give the infamous black-clad facade a “green makeover”, covering the lower levels in planting, and adding a detached rooftop garden conservatory visible from miles around.

The new-look tower will feature a hotel, offices, cafés, restaurants and public spaces open 24 hours a day; the owners hope it will become a leisure-filled landmark when it opens in 2024 in time for the Olympic Games in Paris.

The project, expected to cost €300m (US$359m, £265.4m), is expected to start in earnest in 2019.

The Parisian government has welcomed the winning scheme for “giving the tower a plural identity, bringing together attractive and innovative uses for the benefit of Parisians and city users.”

Jean-Louis Missika, the assistant mayor in charge of the city’s urban planning and architecture, said: “The New AOM project is a reflection of the architectural vision we are embodying – a user-oriented approach, generous with its environment, and exemplary in terms of energy.

“Its great delicacy will make it possible to reconcile the Parisians with the Tour Montparnasse. Ready for the Olympics, the Tour will be the icon of Paris in the 21st century.”

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One of Paris’ most controversial buildings is set to undergo a green-tinged transformation, with three architecture studios joining forces to comprehensively renovate the Tour Montparnasse skyscraper.
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