Centre Georges Pompidou

Centre Georges Pompidou, commonly shortened to Centre Pompidou and also known as the Pompidou Centre in English, is a complex building in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles, rue Montorgueil, and the Marais. It was designed in the style of high-tech architecture by the architectural team of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, along with Gianfranco Franchini.It houses the Bibliothèque publique d’information (Public Information Library), a vast public library; the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is the largest museum for modern art in Europe; and IRCAM, a centre for music and acoustic research. Because of its location, the Centre is known locally as Beaubourg. It is named after Georges Pompidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974 who commissioned the building, and was officially opened on 31 January 1977 by President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. As of 2006, the Centre Pompidou has had over 180 million visitors since 1977 and more than 5,209,678 visitors in 2013, including 3,746,899 for the museum.

The sculpture Horizontal by Alexander Calder, a free-standing mobile that is 7.6 m (25 ft) tall, was placed in front of the Centre Pompidou in 2012.

The Centre was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano; British architect Richard Rogers; and Italian architect Gianfranco Franchini, assisted by Ove Arup & Partners. The project was awarded to this team in an architectural design competition, the results of which were announced in 1971. It was the first time in France that international architects were allowed to participate. World-renowned architects Oscar Niemeyer, Jean Prouvé and Philip Johnson made up the jury which would select one design out of the 681 entries.

National Geographic described the reaction to the design as “love at second sight.” An article in Le Figaro declared “Paris has its own monster, just like the one in Loch Ness.” But two decades later, while reporting on Rogers’ winning the Pritzker Prize in 2007, The New York Times noted that the design of the Centre “turned the architecture world upside down” and that “Mr. Rogers earned a reputation as a high-tech iconoclast with the completion of the 1977 Pompidou Centre, with its exposed skeleton of brightly coloured tubes for mechanical systems. The Pritzker jury said the Pompidou “revolutionised museums, transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city.”

Initially, all of the functional structural elements of the building were colour-coded: green pipes are plumbing, blue ducts are for climate control, electrical wires are encased in yellow, and circulation elements and devices for safety (e.g., fire extinguishers) are red.

[excerpts from Wikipedia]

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