Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Athens Tower

The Athens Tower, built in 1971, is currently the tallest building in Athens, Greece. The Athens Tower was the first, and only Athenian skyscraper, being the tallest building in the Balkans at the time of completion. It is located on Mesogeion Road, one of the key roads entering the city centre, near the historic football stadium of Panathinaikos, i.e. Leoforos. It is one of the most recognisable buildings in the Greek capital, being 103 metres tall, consisting of 28 floors. It also has next to it a shorter building, 65 metres heigh. Both buildings house offices and shops. 
Although it is not a very tall building, in comparison to the ones existing in other major cities such as New York with its skyscrapers everywhere, or the Shard being built now in London, it is an achievement to have a tall building like that in Athens. The key problematic issue are the earthquakes which hit the Greek mainland and islands since antiquity. However the ideological, social, philosophical and economical factors do not favour the existence of such buildings anywhere in Greece. 

The project commenced on June 13, 1968 and a year later the frame had been completed. The building was finalised and fully functional by 1971. It has proved highly resistant to the earthquakes of 1981 and 1999, which devastated many parts of Athens. 
The Athens Tower has become an icon for the city and its skyline. Following its construction a new generation of towers appeared in Athens, none matching its height or elegance. Nevertheless it has become a hate symbol for many Athenians, believing that it is alien to the rest of the architectural style of the city, especially since it is very close to Lykavitos (the hill opposite the Acropolis),a bit further away from the Acropolis and close to the city centre with its ancient ruins and classical buildings. 
Having gone passed it numerous times I can see that it is in a way outdated, despite its emblematic height. However it is still the tallest building in Athens, seeming very tall in comparison to the surrounding buildings. Maybe future skyscrapers in Athens will take the Athens Tower as a paradigm and better any future projects.

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