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Pompidou Renovations: It is keeping the “Exterior”

Centre Georges Pompidou gets a £90 million worth of renovations on its 40th anniversary. The High-Tech Cultural Center in the middle of a mostly Classic Paris has been a cause of controversy ever since its design proposal was announced a winner of an international competition for the building of a new cultural center in Paris in 1971. The controversy was predicted by the French president, back then, Georges Pompidou when he set his eyes on, still young and unknown, Renzo Piano and Richard Roger’s eccentric proposal. Even Rogers and Piano, themselves, did not expect their proposal to be the winner between 600 entries which include those by internationally famous architects.

Photography: dalbera (CC BY 2.0)

The Pompidou center has survived 40 years of harsh criticism by conservative architects and artists who resembled it to oil refineries and convenience stores. However, it was not all hate for the center whose popularity has been rising, recently, against famous French museums like the Louvre, receiving 3.3 million visitors last year. So, the project was successful, after all, in achieving President Pompidou’s goals for the cultural center to be an attraction for local and foreign visitors as well as a landmark for the city.

The unconventional design of the Pompidou Center employs structural and mechanical systems, which are normally hidden inside walls, as an outer skin for the building. The idea for the design is not only meant to strike, but also to maximize the functional space for exhibition. Additionally, the designers have used bright industrial colors to identify the different exposed system, giving the design further boldness.

Photography: Francis Toussaint

The exposure of the building’s different systems may have been useful for exhibition purposes, but it has also made them in need of more frequent refurbishment than traditional buildings. Between 1998 and 2000, the building has been closed and renovated for €88 million. The newly announced renovations will take place between 2018 and 2020. They will include the replacement of the building’s famous red-painted escalator zigzagging on its western. However, nothing about the building’s unique and outstanding features will be changing as confirmed by Serge Lasvignes, president of the Pompidou Centre, who also mentioned that the museum shall not be closed during renovations: “It will be a sort of construction game, but our aim is to stay open, that is the objective.”

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