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PLP shortlisted in £250m Montparnasse Tower contest

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PLP Architecture has been shortlisted for a £250 million overhaul of Paris’ opinion-splitting Montparnasse Tower

The AJ100 practice – working with landscape architect Gustafson Porter – is the only UK team chosen from 700 entries to reach the next round of the prestigious international design competition.

China’s MAD Architects, OMA, New York-based Studio Gang, and France’s nAOM, Architecture-Studio and Dominique Perrault Architecture complete the shortlist.

Backed by building-owner Ensemble Immobilier Tour Maine-Montparnasse, the contest seeks proposals to return the 210 metre-tall landmark to its ‘former glory’.

Deputy mayor of Paris, Jean-Louis Missika commented: ‘We are delighted with this varied and audacious selection of architects which promises a great diversity of ideas, approaches and innovations for the transformation of the Montparnasse Tower, the initial stage in the renovation of the whole area.’

The seven finalists have until March to draw up proposals. Two firms will then be selected to develop their schemes further ahead of the announcement of a winner in July.

PLP’s shortlisting came as the firm announced that its turnover for the year ending December 2015 grew just 0.06 per cent from £21.695 million to £21.709 million. Overall profit during the 12-month period – during which staff numbers grew from 148 to 188 –  fell 72 per cent from £3.18 million to around £887,000.

Designed by Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan and Louis Hoym de Marien, the controversial 59-storey building triggered a 40-year ban on towers in the French capital shortly after its completion in 1973.

Located in the Montparnasse district – the epicentre of the artistic world in the 1920s – the skyscraper was the tallest in France until 2011.

Today the structure in Paris’ low-rise 15th arrondissement – which features offices, a restaurant and a viewing terrace – is the 17th tallest building in the European Union.

The winning team – set to be announced in spring next year – will upgrade the facade, reconfigure ground floor circulation spaces and bring the structure up to current environmental standards.

The project will also remove any remaining asbestos from the building while improving accessibility and energy performance.

First announced last year, the renovation is part of a larger programme of works – dubbed Demain Montparnasse – which will regenerate the entire 2.5 hectare surrounding the iconic structure.

Potential upgrades include enlarging a 30,000m² shopping centre at the tower’s base and erecting a new hotel and housing within existing plaza.

The redevelopment is expected to complete by 2024 when the city is bidding to host the Olympics. The winning host city – contested by Budapest and Los Angeles – will be announced in September 2017.

The full shortlist

  • Architecture-Studio (France)
  • Dominique Perrault Architecture (France)
  • MAD Architects (China)
  • nAOM – Chartier Dalix / Franklin Azzi Architecture / Hardel-Lebihan Architectes (France)
  • OMA (The Netherlands)
  • PLP Architecture (UK)
  • Studio Gang (US)
  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Chris Rogers

    This piece fails to connect the promise to restore with what actually is going to be done to a good building. Which, as it happens, features in my new book 'How to Read Paris'!

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