The 180-metre (590-foot) Tour Triangle was supposed to go up in the southwestern corner of the city by 2017, but local lawmakers blocked the proposal by 83 votes to 78 in heated scenes at city hall.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo said she would launch a legal appeal against the vote, accusing councillors of displaying their voting cards in what was supposed to be a secret ballot.
The Triangle tower project was supposed to create 5,000 jobs with construction costs put at 535 million euros ($670 million) in 2011.
But many lawmakers will have been thinking of the scorn that is still directed towards the Tour Montparnasse — a brown carbuncle opened in 1973 that remains the only skyscraper in the city centre and has made it all but impossible for developers to win approval for future high-rises.
Paris imposed a height limit of 37 metres in the wake of the uproar over the 210-metre tower in Montparnasse — which was accused of ruining both the view and a once-beloved artist district.
City developers later struck a compromise with critics by quarantining high-rise buildings in the La Defense business sector just outside the centre.
But the rules changed in 2010 when the city decided to allow apartment blocks up to 50 metres and offices up to 180 metres in areas near the ring road.
In July 2013, it gave initial approval to the Tour Triangle in the Parc des Expositions. Environmentalists and aesthetes were immediately up in arms.
They had formidable support, including from Norman Foster, the celebrated British architect behind several skyscrapers including London’s “Gherkin”.
“I don’t see what Paris needs with a skyscraper,” he said at the time.
The UN’s cultural body UNESCO also waded in, warning that new towers would threaten the landscape of one of the few remaining horizontal cities.
The prestigious Swiss team behind the project, Herzog and De Meuron, rejected the criticism, saying the Triangle was “beautiful”…