Skyscraper Could Be A Rival To The Eiffel Tower

Developers unveiled the design for a soaring, curving skyscraper Monday that will be the centerpiece of a redevelopment of La Defense, the business district west of Paris, and will rival the Eiffel Tower in height.

The American architect Thom Mayne, who was awarded the Pritzker Prize for architecture last year, designed the tower, which will be called Phare, or Lighthouse, and echoes London's famous ''Gherkin'' building in form. His design was selected ahead of proposals from nine other prominent architects, including Norman Foster of Britain and Rem Koolhaas of the Netherlands.

The tower, rising 300 meters, or 984 feet, is expected to be completed in 2012. It will be one of the tallest structures in the Paris area, although it does not match the Eiffel Tower, which is 324 meters tall including antennas. It will dwarf the Montparnasse Tower, currently Paris's tallest office building at 210 meters.

Mayne said Monday that the building would be an ''icon'' but that he wanted it to retain a human dimension.

''There's a fluidity, a sensuousness, a softness to the form as it reaches to the sky,'' he said, describing the asymmetric twist of the building, which swells out over an elevated lobby in the lower portion before tapering off to a thicket of wind turbines on the roof.

Mayne, 62, said it would also be ''a prototype for a green building,'' with a wind farm generating its own heating and cooling for five months of the year and a movable ''double skin'' to cut the heat from direct sunlight through the windows.

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