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La Defense

La Defense

The name of La Défense comes from the statue of La Défense de Paris which commemorates the resistance during the Franco-Prussian War. In 1958, The Public Establishment for Installation of La Défense (EPAD) buildings were built and began to slowly replace the city's factories, shanties, and even a few farms. The Center of New Industries and Technologies (CNIT) was built and first used in 1958. These "first generation" skyscrapers were all very similar in appearance, limited to a height of 100 metres. In 1966, the Nobel Tower was the first office skyscraper built in the area. In 1970, the RER line A railway was opened from La Défense to Champs Elysees; The biggest commercial centre in Europe, the Quatre Temps, was created in 1981. In 1982, the EPAD launched the Tête Défense competition to find a monument to complete the Axe historique, which eventually led to the construction of Grande Arche at the west end of the quarter. .

"La Grande Arche"
Created by a Danish architect, Johan-Otto von Spreckelson who won a competition called by the President Mitterrand, this hollowed-out cube, weighing 300,000 tons, 110m (352 ft) high and 70 meters (225 ft) wide, was entitled "La Grande Arche". This monument, dedicated to Fraternity, is built of concrete with a facing of Carrara marble and grey granite. On the esplanade are works by Takis, fountains, luminous signals and statues by Mirò. Various ministries have their offices in the massive supporting pillars, the human rights commission (Fondation des Droits de l'Homme) and major corporations have their office there. The Arche also includes a large exhibition hall.