Tuesday, January 19, 2010
La Défense is the place that everyone loves to hate. Torn between protecting the historic center of Paris with its low profile and wanting to create a modern, high-density business district, regional planners came up with the idea of building the skyscrapers across the Seine, straddling the towns of Nanterre, Courbevoie, and Puteaux. Up close, the atmosphere, to my mind, is quite sterile and the windswept Esplanade uninviting. But from a distance, when the light is hitting those towers just right, here catching the first rays of the morning sun, it has its own kind of beauty. (Sorry about that light pole; no way was I going to risk my neck trying to get across the traffic choked intersection at Porte Maillot to get a more pristine view.) La Grande Arche was built to anchor a western extension of the axis that runs from the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe.
Although the district is the largest business center in Europe, it's going to get even bigger. The crane pictured here is just one of the new projects anticipated between now and 2015. Time, the economy, and modern architecture march on.