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Paris’ iconic Pompidou Centre to close for three year renovation

Tim Gibson

01 February 2021


THE ICONIC Pompidou Centre in Paris is set to close for at least three years to undergo a much-needed restoration.

Loved by some and loathed by others, the art complex first opened in 1977 and turned the architectural world on its head with Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers’ inside-out design.

The architects ingeniously flipped the insides of the building outside - putting pipes, lifts, ventilation and everything else on the building’s exterior to free up gallery space inside.

In doing so they created one of the city’s most instantly recognisable buildings and jump-started a contemporary architectural movement.

Above: The Pompidou Centre stands in stark contrast to the surrounding 4th arrondissement of Paris.

Not all critics at the time were impressed, however, Le Monde called it “an architectural King Kong” while Louis Chevalier claimed modern architecture was “assassinating” Paris.

Bill Bryson, visiting the building in 1992, noted that the elements had not been kind to the exposed structural and mechanical components, writing that “it was a bit weathered and faded, like a child’s toy that has been left out over winter.”

Indeed, the building’s unique design has not allowed it to age well and much of the restoration will go towards fixing this - some USD $23M on the external “caterpillar” escalators alone.

A total of USD $242M will be spent on restoring the building in time for its 50th anniversary in 2027.

Above: The complex houses Europe's largest modern art museum.

“In concrete terms, our aim is to preserve our key masterpiece, the building itself, which has not undergone any major renovation since 1977,” Serge Lasvignes, president of the centre, told Le Figaro.

“This work is essential if it is to remain an international icon of modernity and contemporary architecture attracting thousands of visitors every year.

“We no longer have a choice, the building is in distress.”

Other elements of the restoration will include the removal of asbestos, improvements to heating and ventilation, improved accessibility and a redesign of the building’s safety components.

The Pompidou Centre has remained Europe’s largest modern art museum and library and a French cultural treasure.


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