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Old March 23rd, 2007, 09:18 AM   #1
hkskyline
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Pompidou Centre, Paris

An inclusive, inside-out building in the heart of Paris.
22 February 2007
Irish Times







The Pompidou Centre shocked critics when it opened 30 years ago. Frank McDonald, Environment Editor, went back to Paris for a nostalgic visit.

It was "the shock of the new", par excellence. Not since the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1887 had Paris seen such a sensational contemporary structure as the Pompidou Centre when it first opened to the public in February 1977. Hi-tech architecture had arrived with a big bang in the City of Light.

With its ducts, pipes, tubes and shafts on the outside, hanging from the building like entrails - green for water, blue for air conditioning, yellow for electricity, red for elevators, etc - the gigantic rectangular "building as a machine" was fiercely attacked by critics as resembling a gasworks or oil refinery.

But it was an immediate success with the public. Planned to cater for 5,000 visitors a day, it was attracting five times as many to its permanent collection of contemporary art as well as its ever-changing exhibitions, a public reference library and IRCAM - a centre for acoustic music popular with younger people.

It may seem odd that the centre is named after Georges Pompidou, Charles de Gaulle's faithful lieutenant and successor as president of France. But it was his vision in 1969, in the aftermath of the student revolt in Paris the previous year, that the city should have such a cultural centre at its heart.

Long before the advent of our digital age, Pompidou declared: "It is my passionate desire that Paris have a cultural centre which is both a museum and a creative centre where the plastic arts can flourish alongside music, the cinema, books, audio-visual research, etc". Sadly, he did not live to see it realised.

An architectural competition for the project in 1970-1971 attracted 681 entries from nearly 50 countries. It was won by a young team comprising Richard Rogers along with Italian architects Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Francini, who deliberately set out to demolish the idea of an "inhibiting cultural palace".

As Piano put it, they wanted to create "an extraordinarily free relationship between art and people, set in an urban context". The site, on the Beauborg plateau directly north of Notre Dame cathedral, had been derelict for years and was used as a surface car park - once a very familiar sight in Dublin.

The building they designed is undoubtedly large - 166 metres long, 60 metres wide and 42 metres high. On eight levels, including a double basement, its glazing extends to 11,000sq m. But equally inspired was their decision to create a vast sloping piazza in front, as a homage to the Campo in Siena.

The piazza is an extraordinarily lively place, especially in summertime. Jugglers, acrobats and musicians all compete for the attention of people queuing to get into the Pompidou Centre or sitting out in the sunshine. It also flows into the adjoining Place Stravinsky, with its kinetic sculptures in a fountain.

Here too is the IRCAM building, designed by Renzo Piano and completed in 1989 as an extension to the Pompidou Centre. Its characteristic red terracotta panels were a very "new thing" at the time, but that was long before they were plastered all over new buildings around the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin and copied elsewhere.

One of the great devices in the Pompidou Centre was the cast steel "gerberette", called after the German engineer Heinrich Gerber who invented it. Designed by Irish-born Peter Rice, the gerberettes are used to support steel girders with a span of 50 metres that underpin the floor "trays" of 7,500sq m.

The central design idea was that the floors should be entirely free of structural columns, to make great clear spaces for exhibitions and other activities. It was for the same reason that all the usual services one finds inside a building were festooned on the exterior; this was not an architectural caprice.

The Pompidou Centre, including its IRCAM extension, cost a total of 933 million French francs (€142 million). Twenty years after its opening, the main building was showing so much wear and tear that it was closed for renovations. These cost almost as much (€137 million) and it re-opened on January 1st, 2000.

It is now well up there with the most visited sites in the world, attracting 150 million visitors in 30 years - more even than Notre Dame. Seven years after its renovation, however, the wear and tear is beginning to show again, with paint peeling off the lower levels or being bleached by the sun higher up.

But at the time it was built, it ushered in a new era of hi-tech architecture, including the Lloyds Building in London (1984), also designed by Richard Rogers, and numerous less well-known examples.

Its success also presaged an extraordinary period of renewal in the French capital over the past 20 years.

This has seen such cultural additions to the city as the Musée d'Orsay, the Grand Louvre, the Institut STET du Monde Arabe, the Opera Bastille, Parc La Villette, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and, most recently, Jean Nouvel's Musée du Quai Branly, near the Eiffel Tower, dedicated to indigenous art.

The Pompidou Centre is also expanding its cultural scope, with a new branch - designed by Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines - due to open in Metz next year. A proposal for a branch in Singapore, designed by the ubiquitous Daniel Libeskind, did not materialise, but China is now being considered.

Meanwhile, the views from Restaurant Georges on the rooftop - run by Thierry Costes, son of celebrity French restauranteur Gilbert Costes - are as stunning as ever. And for those who can't afford it, there's still plenty to do, such as spending an afternoon in the music library, a sort of communal YouTube.

It would be impossible to imagine Paris now without the Pompidou Centre. Although the fact that it needed to be thoroughly renovated after just 20 years of use was not a great advertisement for hi-tech modernism, it is as firmly part of the city's cultural landscape as the Eiffel Tower itself.

After visiting the building, architects should make a short detour to the rue des Archives - in the direction of the Marais - where Renzo Piano maintains a model-making studio behind a plate-glass shop window. It is full of exquisitely crafted architectural models, mostly in balsa wood.
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Old March 24th, 2007, 09:43 AM   #2
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1977 with that style of building?? WOW!!!
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Old March 24th, 2007, 09:52 AM   #3
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J'aimais toujours ce bâtiment.
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Old March 25th, 2007, 04:02 AM   #4
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i love it so much ,go there 3 times a week
and the best part is the top floor and the book store
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Old March 25th, 2007, 04:03 AM   #5
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oh ,the bibliotheque is also wonderful,best place to study
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Old April 3rd, 2007, 05:49 PM   #6
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From Pompidou pique to Pritzker Prize winner
Reuters
Arthur Spiegelman
Friday, March 30, 2007

British modernist architect Richard Rogers, whose Pompidou Center in Paris opened to career-threatening catcalls but fast became a beloved public space, has won architecture's highest award - the Pritzker Prize.
The 73-year-old Rogers, whose major works also include the Lloyd's of London headquarters in the City of London, will receive the US$100,000 (HK$780,000) grant for a lifetime of achievement at a June 4 ceremony inside a prize of British architecture - London's Banqueting House, built in 1619 by Inigo Jones.

In announcing Rogers' selection, Thomas Pritzker, president of the US- based Hyatt Foundation, said: "Rogers is a champion of urban life and believes the potential of the city to be a catalyst for social change."

Pritzker jury chairman Lord Palumbo called Rogers not only a master of the large urban building but the creator of his own brand of architectural Expressionism.

Palumbo said the high-tech Pompidou Center, designed in partnership with Renzo Piano and completed in 1977, was a work that revolutionized museums, turning them from elitist monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange.

Their 92,900 square-meter modernist museum shocked Paris by putting the inner workings of a building outside in the street for all to see, including exterior escalators enclosed in a transparent tube. It was a public space that defied comparison as it combined a museum of modern art, a library, a design and a music center along with a huge array of shops. After first turning up their noses, the French public reversed itself and flocked to the center at a rate of seven million visitors a year.

"Up to doing the center, I had built a few houses," Rogers said.

"Renzo and I entered the competition to build the center because we figured two unemployed people would have more fun than one."

Their immediate reward was unemployment. Rogers said that except for teaching he was out of work for two years. "Nobody else wanted a Pompidou Center after we finished."

But people wanted a new Lloyd's of London, and Rogers won the competition to design it, turning it into one of his masterpieces and the building that brought him new business.

Among projects he is working on are Tower 3 at the World Trade Center site in New York and the redesign of the Javits Convention Center in New York's Hell's Kitchen, an impoverished area in midtown that hugs the Hudson River.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 02:35 AM   #7
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I love the Pompidou Centre. I can't believe it's that old. It's aged really well.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 11:48 AM   #8
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the building is just plain awesome and genius!!
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Old April 6th, 2007, 04:27 PM   #9
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ehhhh Renzo Piano has style...
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Old April 7th, 2007, 10:14 PM   #10
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Been there but that was quite some time ago.
I never liked the building. It doesnt work for me.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 10:20 PM   #11
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Amazing, I loved this building!
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Old June 1st, 2007, 05:18 AM   #12
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Designing the Future
4 June 2007
Newsweek International

British architect Richard Rogers first seized the international spotlight in 1971 when he and Renzo Piano beat out 680 entries with their outrageous design for the Pompidou Center in Paris. Their brash building--its brightly colored tubes, ducts and pipes exposed on the outside--landed in an old neighborhood like an alien spacecraft. Not long afterward, Rogers began his own practice in London, where he once again rocked the old guard with his gleaming, stainless-steel Lloyd's of London headquarters slapped down among the dowdy office buildings of the financial district. Though he now carries a British title--Lord Rogers of Riverside--the 73-year-old architect is actually Italian by birth (his great-grandfather Rogers was an English dentist who settled in Venice); the family moved to England on the eve of World War II. Not that it matters--Rogers's outlook is clearly global. And on June 4 he'll be officially awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.

In honoring him, the Pritzker jury cited his consistent pursuit of "the highest goals of architecture" and his "unique interpretation of the Modern Movement's fascination with the building as machine." He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Cathleen McGuigan. Excerpts:

MCGUIGAN: You've spent a big part of your career devoted to master planning, thinking about cities and working with the City of London. That's an unusual trajectory for a "star" architect.

ROGERS: I always say, I love cities. I am an urban person; I very much believe in city-states. I was born in Florence, a city-state if we look back 500 years. But I do think cities have a very important role in our society, and I have done a lot of work on the regeneration of cities. When this [British] government came into power, the deputy prime minister asked me to chair a group called the Urban Task Force, to examine the state of our cities. We came up with about 105 recommendations, and they are very much part of the policy now of how we develop compact, well-designed, environmentally conscious cities with good public transport. I've been trying to make that link between the quality of architecture and the quality of public space and the vitality of cities--and quality of life.

I'm now the chief adviser on architecture and urbanism to the mayor of London--and the first thing he asked me, in 2001, was to try and develop some of those policies. I'm talking about what is called the urban renaissance ... The first thing is to make cities more people-friendly--and to rebalance the relationship between cars and people, and give the priority to people. That means public transport.

You were way ahead of most of your architectural peers in your concern for sustainability, which is now the big buzzword.

Yes, I remember first reading a Club of Rome report about the problems of using oil and so on. That must have been in the '60s. They got many of their calculations wrong in those times, but the principles were right. Since then we've been interested, but only in the last decade or two have we realized there's a tipping point. And, of course, Al Gore has made that very clear to a large population, including here in Europe, with his film. My point is, if we want mankind to continue--mankind rather than the earth, because that will probably continue--then we really have to start looking at how we can make this globe sustainable.

As far as buildings are concerned, we've built the new Parliament in Wales, which uses under 50 percent the amount of energy you'd expect. And we've built a number of court buildings, in Bordeaux and elsewhere, and really lowered the amount of energy used, so we're mediating the climate with the building.

You have a number of U.S. projects in the works. One is Tower 3 at the World Trade Center site. With so much controversy over the site, and so many delays, how likely is it that your skyscraper will be built?

Well, I'm optimistic. Everybody else has already done such massive battling, we've been able to gain a toehold, if not more. Again, I think our building, and Norman Foster's and Fumihiko Maki's buildings--we're all sort of linked in terms of the site and also working with the same client--will be built. I would be surprised if they're not. But then I always say, until it's built you're never sure.

Years ago, when you were studying at Yale, you were mad for Frank Lloyd Wright. What other architect--or building--from a distant era inspires you?

Well, I suppose, looking at other eras, I'm inspired by Brunelleschi. I come from Florence, and he comes from Florence, and he was a great engineer and architect and--what I'm not--a sculptor. I think he changed not only how we look at art and architecture, but how we live in cities.

You are the only modern architect I can think of whose work always brings to mind color. You like color.

Yes.

What color shirt are you wearing right now?

[Laughs ] Right now I'm wearing a brilliant green shirt.

See!

Right.

I wonder if your love of color and use of color comes from being Italian?

Possibly. My mother loved color. My mother used to embarrass me when I was a schoolboy wearing bright colors.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 09:12 AM   #13
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J'aime beaucoup!! I have to visit this place when I go to Paris & London next summer (hopefully), if not then by the summer after that for sure.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 11:53 PM   #14
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Any more pix?
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Old June 14th, 2007, 11:14 AM   #15
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Old June 26th, 2007, 11:45 PM   #16
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I think the backside shows the "inside out" concept in a much more radical way than the front.



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Old January 3rd, 2011, 07:14 PM   #17
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Source and more : http://www.pbase.com/fgauthier/paris_alsace_1





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