Design Icon: The Eiffel Tower

Design*Sponge / Design Icon: Eiffel Tower / Illustration by Libby VAnderPloeg

Design: The Eiffel Tower

Designers: Maurice Koechlin, Émile Nouguier, Stephen Sauvestre

Date: 1887-89

Location: Paris, France

Construction: Iron lattice

Background: One of the most cherished and immediately recognizable pieces of architecture in the world, Paris’s Eiffel Tower hardly needs an introduction—suffice it to say that, at the time of its construction, not everybody was in love with it. Designed by Gustave Eiffel’s engineering firm as the centerpiece to the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, the 1063-foot iron monolith was the subject of scorn from many Parisians. Afraid that the bulky, industrial-looking structure would overshadow more traditional treasures like the Louvre or the Arc de Triomphe, a number of artists and architects formed the so-called “Committee of 300” to protest against its construction. The show went on, though, and many of the structure’s detractors went on to accept and even celebrate it. At the time of its building, the Eiffel Tower became the tallest manmade structure in the world and remained so until it was surpassed by the Chrysler building in 1930. An icon of both Modernism and French architecture, the Eiffel Tower has gone on to achieve legend-status, immortalized on countless prints, posters, paintings and souvenirs.

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg.


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