Located beyond the arrondissements of central Paris at the start of the western outskirts of the city, La Défense is Europe's largest purpose-built business district.
The site of the Grande Arche, one of Paris' most modern and imposing landmarks, the purpose-built business district has its roots in the 1960s when Charles de Gaulle led an effort to level the area and concentrate skyscrapers in a single business district, rather than altering the character of downtown Paris with large commercial buildings.
It now features 560 ha (1,400 acres) of glass and steel buildings (72 in total) of which 16 are completed skyscrapers accommodating 180,000 daily workers, and 3,500,000 sq m of office space.
Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects Tour Carpe Diem sets the business district and skyscraper cluster of La Défense on a fresh path to pedestrian-friendly urbanism.
It does this by reconnecting the raised esplanade that continues the axis of the Champs-Elysées to the surrounding urban fabric of the town of Courbevoie to the north. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, “a monumental stair descends from the building's winter garden and lobby to a public plaza on the Boulevard Circulaire, where a second front welcomes visitors at what was here to fore the back of the site.”
Tour Carpe Diem's pure form and faceted facades allow the tower to stand out in a thicket of tall buildings in La Défense. The building's sleek glass facades are stretched tautly over distinctive sculptural crystalline massing generated by careful consideration of climate and context. Sweeping window walls are oriented to the best views, and narrow facades are turned to the setting sun to minimise solar gain in the office interiors. In addition, Tour Carpe Diem is the first to exceed France’s Haute Qualité Environnementale standards and also to achieve LEED-CS Platinum certification.