following an international competition launched in 2016, MAD architects has now revealed its renovation proposal for the famed parisian skyscraper, ‘tour montparnasse‘. the shortlisted design transforms the huge black monolithic building — positioned in the city center — into an artistic lighting installation that presents an upside down reflection of the city.

MAD architects tour montparnasse
all images courtesy of MAD architects, video produced by mir



MAD’s design uses concave principles to create a dramatic optical illusion. by setting every glass panel of the façade at a specific angle, the building itself becomes a city-scale mirror. the streets and rooftops of the neighboring buildings appear as if they are hanging in the sky; while the sky is reflected onto the lower section of the building, blending into its environment.

MAD architects tour montparnasse
the proposal is currently on show at pavillion de l’arsenal, paris



‘at the time when it was built, montparnasse tower, like the eiffel tower, represented the pride and achievements of its era,’ explains ma yansong, lead architect at MAD. ‘it is mankind’s worship of technology and power that has created this tyrannical monument. it stands out amidst classical paris. today, we cannot really demolish this building and the historical regrets it stands for, but we can establish a new perspective to re-examine and think about how humanity can co-exist and interact with the tower and its environment, to bring meaning to our hearts.’

MAD architects tour montparnasse
completed in 1973, the 59-storey structure was the last skyscraper to be built in paris



in september 2017, nouvelle AOM, a consortium of three french firms, was chosen to complete the project. the €300 million renovation, financed entirely by the tower’s co-owners, is set to complete in time for the paris olympic games in 2024. see the project in full here.

MAD architects tour montparnasse
the design uses concave principles to create a dramatic optical illusion

MAD architects tour montparnasse
MAD architects was one of seven shortlisted firms to participate in the competition

MAD architects tour montparnasse
the mechanism behind the design



project info:


directors in charge: ma yansong, qun dang, yosuke hayano
associates in charge: kin li, andrea d’antrassi
design team: li guangchong, jordan kanter, jacob hu, marco gastoldi, matthew pugh, felix amiss, yan ran, casey kell, ben yuqiang, zhao meng, rozita kahirtseva, torsten radunski, young kang, li liang
lead architect: MAD architects
executive architect: DGLa
structural engineers: terrell
MEP engineers: NOX ingénierie
façade consultant: VS-A
façade – reflection consultant: elxir / philppe bompas
fire prevention: CSD faces
acoustic consultant: acoustique et conseil
lighting consultant: l’observatoire international / hervé descottes
environmental consultant: NOX oxygène
asbestos reclamation: NOX curage desamiantage demolition
lift consultants: movveo












  • brilliant, brilliant, brilliant….etc

    yves rathle says:
  • The video renderings make the Tour Montparnasse look closer to the Eiffel Tower than it actually is. I am sceptical such an optical illusion would succeed given the two monuments are, in reality, much further apart than shown.

    John Vickers says:
  • Compelling rhetoric and a graceful, intriguing design, however I fear the reality could end up being much less desirable. In general, mirroring can work well to disguise a building given the right lighting conditions. Where I think this proposal goes wrong is with the upside down gimic. Would it be cool to see an upside down Eiffel Tower? Probably. But the rest of the city?

    Perhaps it will look beautiful and fragmented like the renders, but disguised, not so much. The darkest area of the tower will be at the top, where the solid reflections of the city will appear to float ominously in the sky, especially on darker days when the rooftops aren’t all bathed in warm sunlight like the renders portray. Meanwhile, the brightest portion of the tower will be near the base (reflecting the sky), which will contrast greatly with the surrounding buildings (and not, as the article incorrectly asserts, blend in).

    Hugh says:
  • Don’t “re-design”. Tear it down and rebuild old Montparnasse instead.

    Abbey says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news