Thursday 27 Mar, 2008

Monumental Hoax


Alleged news flash: The Eiffel Tower is being redesigned with a new, temporary observation deck in recognition of the monument’s 120th anniversary next year.

Relax: It’s not true.

The story unfolded this week like a premature April Fools’ Day hoax.

The British newspaper The Guardian first reported the alleged new design Monday, citing the Société d’exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (Sete). The Guardian reported that prestigious Serero Architects of Paris won a competition to redesign the public viewing platform. Serero even posted plans and computer-generated images (pictured at left) of the new observation deck, which would use a high-performance carbon Kevlar to more than double the viewing area atop the tower.

A close up look at the Eiffel Tower redesign

Several newspapers and blogs—including London’s Daily Telegraph, Gadling, the Paris Traveler and even The New York Times—soon
picked up on the news, immediately sparking outrage and controversy.

Critics cried, purists pouted and would-be travelers worried that their
keepsake photos would be tarnished by the new “mushroom cap” (above). But, alas, it’s not true.

The Belfast Telegraph today broke the news in a story titled, “Le grand hoax: Eiffel Tower extension is fake.” The story even quoted an Eiffel Tower spokeswoman:

“This is a hoax. We have no idea where this came from.
The whole thing is preposterous. There is no question of changing the
way that the Eiffel Tower looks, even temporarily. We have plans for
the 120th anniversary, of course, but nothing like this.”

The New York Times also corrected itself, reporting that principal architect David Serero confirmed that his firm had spontaneously submitted the designs. Serero said that there was no competition and that tower management did not solicit the designs.

The irony, of course, is that the Eiffel Tower originally was seen as an eyesore. More than a century later, of course, it’s perhaps the most famous, most photographed and most beloved structure in the world. C’est la vie!

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