Structure in the World,” “the World’s Greatest Engineering Wonder,” and “the Biggest Thing on Earth.”

Further reading

Downs, L. Vaughn. 1993. The Mightiest of Them All: Memories of Grand Coulee Dam. New York: ASCE Press.

Ficken, Robert E. 1995. Rufus Woods, the Columbia River, and the Building of Modern Washington. Pullman: Washington State University Press.

Pitzer, Paul C. 1994. Grand Coulee: Harnessing a Dream. Pullman: Washington State University Press.

La Grande Arche

Paris, France

La Grande Arche is the paramount landmark, the crowning monument of Paris’s Place de la Défense. It is the eastern terminus of the monumental Voie Triomphale (Triumphal Way), extending from the Cour Carrée of the Louvre through the Tuileries Gardens and down the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe; the axis then continues for almost 4 miles (6 kilometers) along the Avenue de la Grande Armée and through La place de la Concorde to cross the Pont de Neuilly and enter La Défense.


La Grande Arche, Place de la Défense, Paris, France; Johann Otto von Spreckelsen, architect, 1982–1989.

La Défense is dominated by ultramodern geometric office or apartment towers, 30 stories high and more, apparently randomly arranged over a large, paved plane. It also boasts conference centers, an exhibition hall, gardens, and a massive public pedestrian open space, beneath which is Paris’s largest shopping complex, restaurants, and a cinema. It was conceived in 1931, when a competition was held to extend the Louvre–Champs Elysées axis. None of the thirty-five classical revival or modernist entries from French architects was realized. The aim had been to continue the French tradition of innovative architecture but for various reasons, no doubt including the 1930s Depression and World War II, little of the kind was built. In 1951, La Défense was zoned for commercial use, and seven years later a specifically appointed agency produced a thirty-year master plan;