The Tower

In the heart of the Parc des Ateliers stands The Tower, which will be inaugurated in June 2021. This 15,000-square-meter building, designed by architect Frank Gehry, is made up of various multi-purpose spaces, from exhibition halls to work and research rooms, and event venues.

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Key facts and figures
  • Height: 56 meters
  • Floors: 12 (10 stories)
  • Façade: 11,000 stainless steel bricks, 53 glass boxes
  • Rotunda (the Drum):
      Diameter: 54 meters
      Height: 16 to 18 meters
      Weight: 670 tons of glass
  • Surface area of the interior spaces:
    15,000 square meters (of which 2,000 square meters is usable for exhibitions)
    1,400 square meters dedicated to the archive program

We wanted to evoke the local, from Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' to the soaring rock clusters you find in the region. Its central drum echoes the plan of the Roman amphitheatre.

Frank Gehry à propos de La Tour

The Tower

La Tour en construction en Septembre 2016

La Tour en construction - Septembre 2016

Hervé Hôte

Built between 2014 and 2021, The Tower will open to the public on June 26, 2021.

The building designed by Frank Gehry has a twisted façade decorated with stainless steel bricks. This material, which is typical of the architect’s work, captures and renders all the color variations in the sky, and gives the building an ever-changing appearance. This aesthetic choice is a nod to the pictorial practice of Vincent van Gogh, who was constantly capturing the shades of the Provençal sky on his canvases during his time in Arles.

The architect also wanted to give the building a mineral touch through its shape and internal structure, which are imbued with the rocky landscapes of the Alpilles, especially the Val d’Enfer near Les Baux-de-Provence. He even used elements of the geological vocabulary to characterize certain parts of the building, such as the glazed “faults” that run along the façade and connect the towers together.  

At the foot of the building, the Drum, a glass rotunda inspired by the Arles Amphitheater, offers a unique reception area for visitors to come and appreciate the richness and diversity of Frank Gehry’s architectural work. Like the Roman arena, the scale and geometry of the rotunda reflect the influence of Roman urbanism on the city.

Technical aspects

The 9-story building stands 56 meters high above Avenue Victor Hugo and covers a surface area of 15,000 square meters.

The 9-story building stands 56 meters high above Avenue Victor Hugo and covers a surface area of 15,000 square meters.

It is made up of 4 interconnected towers attached to a concrete spine that houses the elevators and stairs.

The façade is decorated with 11,000 stainless steel bricks deformed by a specific mechanical process. Each of these bricks is unique and has a special number and location on the building.

Glass boxes serve as windows extending beyond the façade to offer different views of the site and its surroundings.

The glass rotunda, called the Drum, is the central element of the building and measures 54 meters in diameter with a maximum height of 18 meters. Blinds can be spread following the path of the sun to protect the spaces.

The energy supply for this building, as well as for the other buildings on the site, will be provided by the centralized cogeneration system using waste vegetable oil installed in Les Forges.

La Tour au coucher du soleil

La Tour et ses reflets pendant le coucher du soleil

Adrian Deweerdt

Use

The Tower consists of various multi-purpose public and private spaces, from exhibition halls to work rooms and event venues.

The Tower consists of various multi-purpose public and private spaces, from exhibition halls to work rooms and event venues.

Frank Gehry’s building is a new proposal for what a cultural building in the 21st century could be.

The interior spaces allow for different – public or private – uses, from the base to the top floor of the building:

  • a 1,000-square-meter exhibition hall called the Main Exhibition Hall offers a single space without any supporting pillars, which meets all international museum standards
  • a panoramic terrace on the 9th floor, 
  • two exhibition halls of 500 and 350 square meters
  • the Drum Café, a café-restaurant
  • an auditorium with 150 seats
  • artists’ studios
  • a library
  • archive spaces (consultation, conservation)
  • event venues and seminar rooms
  • offices

Please note: Floors 3 to 9 of the Tower (including the terrace) are not accessible to visitors at the moment

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