And will it look like a giant glass skirt out of the Jetsons?

In his 75-plus years in the fashion industry, the 90-year-old couturier Pierre Cardin has molded silhouettes, cinched panstuits, and stretched and shortened hemlines. More recently he has sent his sights on shaping the Venice skyline. His proposed Palais Lumière—a dizzying 60-story pirouette of glass and steel—represents either economic salvation for a faded corner of Venice or a grandiose fetish worthy of Dubai, depending on whom you ask.

Last week, as the Times reports, several of Italy’s prominent architects and art historians petitioned President Giorgio Napolitano to stop the project, which would include hotels, 284 private residences, a shopping mall, hanging gardens, a panoramic restaurant, swimming ponds, and a helipad. The palazzo’s fate hangs in the balance: though local politicians back the development, Cardin and his architect, nephew Rodrigo Basilicati, still must win approval from the Italian Culture Ministry. If everything goes according to plan, construction could start early in 2013.

Sited in Porto Marghera, about five miles outside the center of Venice, Cardin’s plan for the palais consists of three towers linked by six discs, which throw off a profile that recalls the clothier’s design for the hooped white skirt above. Conceived as a habitable sculpture, the $2.6 billion structure would top out at 820 feet, twice the height of Venice’s traditional landmark, the bell tower in St. Mark’s Square. Critics worry that the palazzo’s size would require foundations deep enough that they might break into the aquifer and further compromise the lagoon, where decades of pumping contributed to the city’s sinking over time.

Basilicati told the Corriere del Veneto newspaper, “We chose this apparently ugly and difficult location because we hope that it will convince other people that Porto Marghera can enter a new chapter.” Indeed, Cardin and Basilicati’s weird brand of archi-couture would catapult this sleepy lagoon city into the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries all at once. It’s been called Venice’s answer to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and, well, Dubai. We sense a certain harmony between Cardin’s mod discs and the flying saucers of the emirate’s planned Water Discus Hotel.

[via the New York Times and the Telegraph]

All images courtesy of Palais Lumiere.

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A map of apartment searches in the U.S.

    Where America’s Renters Want to Move Next

    A new report that tracks apartment searches between U.S. cities reveals the moving aspirations of a certain set of renters.

  2. A man walks by an abandoned home in Youngstown, Ohio

    How Some Shrinking Cities Are Still Prospering

    A study finds that some shrinking cities are prosperous areas with smaller, more-educated populations. But they also have greater levels of income inequality.

  3. A rendering of a co-living building in San Jose.

    The Largest Co-Living Building in the World Is Coming to San Jose

    The startup Starcity plans to build an 800-unit, 18-story “dorm for adults” to help affordably house Silicon Valley’s booming workforce.

  4. A house with a for sale sign.

    Why Are Zoning Laws Defining What Constitutes a Family?

    It’s wrong to exclude safe uses of housing because of who belongs to a household. Like family law, zoning ordinances should prioritize functional families.

  5. a photo of yellow vest protesters in Paris, France.

    To Understand American Political Anger, Look to ‘Peripheral France’

    French geographer Christophe Guilluy has a controversial diagnosis of working-class resentment in the age of Trump, Brexit, and the Yellow Vests.