Centre Pompidou : 30 years of world culture!
Centre Pompidou
30 years of world culture!
C.G.P., February 1, 2007
Background 

The Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou was the brainchild of President Georges Pompidou who wanted to create an original cultural institution in the heart of Paris completely focused on modern and contemporary creation, where the visual arts would rub shoulders with theatre, music, cinema, literature and the spoken word. Housed in the centre of Paris in a building designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, whose architecture symbolises the spirit of the 20th century, the Centre Pompidou first opened its doors to the public in 1977. After renovation work from 1997 to December 1999, it opened to the public again on 1 January 2000, with expanded museum space and enhanced reception areas. Since then it has once again become one of the most visited attractions in France. Some 6 million people pass through the Centre Pompidou's doors each year, a total of over 150 million visitors in its 25 years or so of existence.

In a unique location under one roof, the Centre Pompidou houses one of the most important museums in the world, featuring the leading collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe, a vast public reference library with facilities for over 2,000 readers, general documentation on 20th century art, a cinema and performance halls, a music research institute, educational activity areas, bookshops, a restaurant and a café. Unswerving in its interdisciplinary vocation and its core mission - to spread knowledge about all creative works from the 20th century and those heralding the new millennium - each year the Centre Pompidou holds thirty or so public exhibitions plus international events - cinema and documentary screenings, conferences and symposiums, concerts, dance and educational activities - many of which go on to other venues in both France and abroad.

Centre Pompidou - Salvador Dali - Paris
Centre Pompidou - Salvador Dali - Paris


Centre Pompidou - CNES - Pascal Le Doare - Esrange - Sweden
Centre Pompidou - CNES - Pascal Le Doare - Esrange - Sweden


The building

Under the rules of the competition, the architectural project had to meet the criteria of interdisciplinarity, freedom of movement and flow, and an open approach to exhibition areas. The competition was won by two young architects: the Italian Renzo Piano and British designer Richard Rogers who proposed a constraint-free architecture in the spirit of the 1960s. The supporting structure and movement and flow systems, such as the escalators, were relegated to the outside of the building, thereby freeing up interior space for museum and activity areas. Colour-coded ducts are attached to the building's west façade, as a kind of wrapping for the structure: blue for air, green for fluids, yellow for electricity cables and red for movement and flow.

The transparency of the west main façade allows people to see what is going on inside the centre from the piazza, a vast esplanade that the architects conceived of as an area of continuity, linking the city and the centre. The centre quickly fell victim to the unexpected scale of its success. With some seven million visitors per year, the building aged prematurely and had to close in October 1997 for 27 months. During this time 70,000 m² were renovated and 8,000 m² added, mainly to display collections. This was possible by relocating the offices outside the centre. When it reopened on 1 January 2000, the centre was an immediate, overwhelming public success again, testifying to the public's inseparable attachment to the site and its spirit.

Centre Pompidou - Charlotte Perriand - Adagp - Paris
Centre Pompidou - Charlotte Perriand - Adagp - Paris


The international competition

1970: an international architectural competition was launched. It was based on a programme aimed at achieving the objectives set by President Georges Pompidou and drawn up by the Sébastien Loste team. Chaired by the internationally renowned architect Jean Prouvé, the prize-winners selected by the jury were Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Gianfranco Franchini, assisted by Ove Arup & Partners. The Centre Pompidou construction office, called Etablissement public constructeur du Centre Beaubourg, was set up at the end of 1971, through a decree by the Ministry for the Arts and Culture. Robert Bordaz was appointed as its chairman.

Centre Pompidou - Arman - Paris
Centre Pompidou - Arman - Paris


Centre Pompidou - Adagp - Paris
Centre Pompidou - Adagp - Paris


Construction and opening the public

Construction work started in April 1972 and work on the metal framework was begun in September 1974. At the same time, the centre's future institutions were defined. In July 1972, the Centre de création industrielle became part of the Centre Pompidou. In 1974, it was proposed to transfer the collections from the Musée national d'art moderne in Avenue Président Wilson. After almost 5 years' work, the Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou was inaugurated by the President of the Republic Valéry Giscard d'Estaing on 31 January 1977, and on 2 February, it opened its doors to the public. Since 1977, the Centre Pompidou has received over 150 million visitors.

Centre Pompidou - Jean-Claude Planchet, Georges Meguerditchian, Eustache Kossakowski - Paris
Centre Pompidou - Jean-Claude Planchet, Georges Meguerditchian, Eustache Kossakowski - Paris


Costs

Building costs (MF = millions of Francs, in 1972)
Land purchase: 85 MF. Main buildings and equipment: 750 MF. Ircam: 100 MF. Place Stravinsky: 28 MF. Miscellaneous: 30 MF. Total: 993 MF. Costs of renovation work
(october 1996 to january 2000)
State aid : 440 MF (1994 francs) raised to 482 MF (1999 francs). Equipment subsidies : 54 MF. Sponsorship and patronage : 40 MF. Total budget : 576 MF (1999 francs).

Centre Pompidou - Alexander Calder - USA
Centre Pompidou - Alexander Calder - USA


Centre Pompidou - Brassa´ - Paris
Centre Pompidou - Brassa´ - Paris


Original architecture

Colour-coded ducts are attached to the outside of the building: blue for air; green for fluids; yellow for electricity cables; and red for movement and flow (elevators) and safety (fire extinguishers). The priority was to maximise functional movement and flow, freeing up internal space by building the ducts and conveyance systems (stairs, elevators etc.) on the outside.

The architects and building design

The centre's architects, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Gianfranco Franchini designed the building on the lines of an "evolving spatial diagram".

The building was designed in two parts: a 3-level infrastructure housing the technical facilities and service areas, a vast 7-level glass and steel superstructure, including a terrace and mezzanine floor, concentrating most of the centre's areas of activity together, except for Ircam which is in Place Stravinsky. The Centre Pompidou's designers aimed to maximise spatial movement and flow to foster an interdisciplinary approach.

Centre Pompidou - Francis Picabia - Paris
Centre Pompidou - Francis Picabia - Paris


Building structure

The metal framework has 14 porticos with 13 bays, each spanning 48 m and standing 12.8 m apart. On top of the posts, on each level, are moulded steel beam hangers, measuring 8 m in length and weighing 10 tonnes. 45 m long girders rest on the beam hangars, which spread stress through the posts and are balanced by tie-beams anchored on cross-bars. Each storey is 7 m high floor-to-floor. The glass and steel superstructure envelops the free open spaces.

Centre Pompidou - Giorgio De Chirico - Italie
Centre Pompidou - Giorgio De Chirico - Italie


Centre Pompidou - Joseph Beuys - Paris
Centre Pompidou - Joseph Beuys - Paris


Happy Anniversary, Centre Pompidou!

www.centrepompidou.fr