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La Grande Arche

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La Grande Arche
L'Arche de La Défense, Ministère de l'Equipement


Structure in General

existing [completed]
curtain wall


governmental office office condominium


  • The grand staircase at the base of the arch is an extremely popular place for sitting and watching activity on the plaza below.
  • On the eastern side of the top floor a large stairway mirrors the one at the base. At the top of the steps is a long observation ledge overlooking Paris.
  • The platform at the base forms a plaza in itself, covered by a permanent tent anchored by cables to the sides of the arch.
  • The design was selected in an anonymous competition. After the winning design was chosen, an envelope was opened and an unheard-of architect's name - Von Spreckelsen - was pulled out.
  • This monumental building was one of French President François Mitterand's "Grands Projets", along with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Pyramide du Louvre.
  • The structure is clad in white Carrara marble, grey granite, and reflective glass.
  • The top floor spanning the arch contains shops, a large gallery space, and open courtyards with stairways to the roof.
  • The Grande Arche is set at the western end of Paris' main axis, in line with the Arc de Triomphe, , and the Musée du Louvre.
  • Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris and its spire would fit easily beneath the arch, whose opening is 93 meters high and 70 meters wide, as wide as the .
  • A set of domed glass elevators lifts visitors from the central platform under the arch to the gallery and observation deck on top. The elevator track is detached from the sides of the arch.
  • Each of the window panels on the outside-facing sides weighs and costs as much as a small car.
  • The arch is turned at an angle of 6.33° on Paris' main axis, making it a dynamic three-dimensional shape when seen from Paris while still allowing sightlines through the archway. The main reason of this rotation was the congested basement: with a métro station, an RER station, and a motorway all situated directly underneath the building, this angle was the only way to accommodate the structure's giant foundations.

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1 Parvis de la Défense

Technical Data

364.11 ft
364.11 ft
364.11 ft
364.11 ft
360.89 ft
360.89 ft
Jul 1989

Involved Companies

Johan-Otto von Spreckelsen
Paul Andreu

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Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • Floodlighting at night
  • Observation deck on roof
  • Panoramic elevators are present
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