Tour Montparnasse


Paris, France | 2016-17 | Concept design

Working in collaboration with PLP Architecture, Gustafson Porter + Bowman were one of seven teams shortlisted from over 700 entries to redevelop Tour Montparnasse, one of the most notable buildings in Paris. The team also included Explorations architecture, WSP, GV Engineering and SNAIK, and was chosen for the collective experience of working to weave modernity into a historic fabric, creating juxtaposition rather than contradiction. 

The concept conceives of the building as 'La Parisienne': chic, elegant, and sometimes even exuberant. The character of a building is not only about the (her) skin: the public can come to admire and respect Tour Montparnasse if it (she) has a deeper meaning beyond her appearance. Opening the tower to public access invites the public to engage with the tower, whilst an ability to utilise a range of typologies within the tower that are outside traditional work boundaries give choice and pleasure to the individual and supports contemporary ways of working. 

As landscape architects, our brief was to: Redevelop the existing plaza to create an organised and comfortable public space with a restored identity; create an open space that introduces people to Paris when approaching from adjacent Gare Montparnasse; and produce a high-quality contemporary scheme of artistic merit. Our landscape design improves the connection between the tower and the wider urban fabric and reconciles ‘La Parisienne’ within the artistic Montparnasse district by encouraging new activities and events. The redeveloped square is approached through lines of trees from five surrounding avenues which create a welcoming public realm and support new desire lines, thus resolving existing notions of isolation. Our remodelling of the ground plane opens new vistas and creates new spaces for the public to relax and meet. These spaces also link with the various podium and upper ground levels, therefore reaffirming the tower’s physical connection to the public realm. Large areas of new planting and trees make use of long periods of sunlight whilst improving thermal comfort, increasing biodiversity, and addressing the Urban Heat Island effect at street level. The northern piazza, comparable in size to New York’s Rockefeller Center, welcomes subway users and reinstates the creative identity of the area by hosting an art school, research centre and shops.