If all goes according to plan for Italian-born fashion designer Pierre Cardin, the city of Venice in Italy will have its very first skyscraper in just two years from now.
Cardin, who is known for his avant-garde style and signature “bubble dress” now has his sights set on the Venice skyline. The eccentric designer and his architect, Rodrigo Basilicati, have proposed the Palais Lumière, an extravagant 60-story, 820-foot structure of spiraling glass and steel. And while the labyrinthine project has received stamps of approval from local politicians, not all Venetians are thrilled with the prospect of welcoming the ultramodern spire into their historical city.
Described by Cardin as a “sculpture building,” the $2.6 billion tower and its surrounding acres would include hotels, private residences, a shopping mall, restaurants, and even a fashion university. Sitting in Porto Marghera, an industrial area five miles from Venice’s city center, Cardin believes the entire project would spur economic growth and catapult the traditional city into the modern era.
But many Venetians feel the project’s negatives far outweigh any economic boons it might spur. Last week, several of Italy’s most renowned art historians, architects and intellectuals wrote to President Giorgio Napolitano in protest of the project, calling it a “cartoonish” eyesore, the New York Times reports.
Other opponents worry that the skyscraper will require deep foundations that could harm the city’s aquifer, further damaging the sinking city’s already-shaky base. Still others, including Italian civil aviation authority Enac, say the tower is so high that it could interfere with planes landing nearby at Marco Polo Airport.
Although the Palais currently has the informal backing of local politicians, it still needs approval from the Italian Culture Ministry. If all goes well for Cardin, construction could begin as early as 2013. The designer hopes to complete the project by the Milan Expo in 2015.