Pompidou to Close for Four-Year Renovation

John Hill
26. January 2021
The Centre Pompidou in 2016 (Photo: "victortsu"/Flickr)

The iconic high-tech building designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers will close from late 2023 until 2027, the same year the Parisian institution will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

France's cultural minister, Roselyne Bachelot, announced the impending closure of the Centre Pompidou on Monday in Le Figaro. She was faced with two choices: keep the museum open during the renovations, which would take about seven years, or close it for a shorter duration and do it for less money. The latter is what will happen come the end of 2023, a decade and a half after the museum closed for three years for its first renovations, from 1997 to 2000. After that renovation work was done, Renzo Piano half-joked to the New York Times that the building, which contains a museum, library, and music center, should close every 25 years "so its function can be rethought." He was off by only a couple years.

Bachelot indicated that the building's distinctive color-coded ducts on the outside of the building have nearly reached the end of their useful life. Those elements, as well as the escalator snaking up the side of the building facing a public plaza, were moved in the competition-winning design by Piano and Rogers from their typical location in the "guts" of the building to the exterior to free up the interior spaces and give them flexibility. The exposed services and column-free interiors were further enabled by the long-span beams and cantilevered gerberettes devised by structural engineer Peter Rice.

The Centre Pompidou in 2016 (Photo: "victortsu"/Flickr)

The four-year period of the upcoming renovations roughly coincides with the time it took to erect the Centre Pompidou in the mid-1970s. Piano and Rogers won the competition in 1971; excavation started in May 1972, when the design was still being worked on; construction wrapped in 1976; and the building officially opened in 1977. The budget for the forthcoming renovation is expected to be around €200 million. 

The building has handled millions of visitors every year — 3.2 million to the museum alone in 2019 — many times more than what it was designed before. The Pompidou, like other museums in France, has been closed since October, and for a few months earlier in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The caterpillar escalators and plaza have been closed recently for their own renovation, set to reopen at the end of April 2021.

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