Agree -- or Disagree -- with Prince on Tall Towers in Old Cities?
HRH The Prince of Wales recently discussed his opinions of tall buildings in London. He was quoted as saying London had a "pockmarked" skyline, because its modern glass skyscrapers are not clustered together. I think there is a lot of truth to that. First time visitors may be surprised to see that: a) there are skyscrapers in such an old city and b) that they are relatively few and far between. Central London has a bit of an identity crisis at the moment.
Paris, on the other hand, is a good example of an old city that has preserved old urbanism in its core. Modern blemishes like Montparnasse and other high rises in the 13th and 15th arrondissements, don't add value to Paris' skyline, but at least they are on the fringe and don't interfere with the central city. True, it would be better if these eyesores were non-existent, but like elevated freeways in cities - you'd rather have them away from the core.
Paris has successfully made La Defense (an inner suburb) its Central Business District, without having to do what London has done. Although the modern skyscrapers of La Defense starkly contrast the elegant architecture of Paris, their geography creates a sense of two distinct cities, one old and one new. (They are different municipalities.) Turns out the Prince has had some relatively positive things to say about La Defense too.
London may be hard pressed to replicate La Defense, but at this point maybe it will have to embrace the modern skyscraper to undo its "pockmarked" image.
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