Designed and built in the 1970s, the Centre George Pompidou in Paris is internationally renowned for its modern art collections and for the high modernity of its exterior design.
The Centre Pompidou is home to France’s National Museum of Modern Art, along with an extensive library and a music and acoustic research centre. Most notably, the centre has earned an international reputation for its collections of 20th and 21st century art. With works from iconic artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Andy Warhol and Anish Kapoor, the collections represent an extraordinary range of modern artistic achievement.
The building itself is also an extraordinary artistic achievement, with its spectacular glass and steel curtain wall and escalators, the colour-coded maintenance tubes that are prominently displayed on the rear exterior wall, and the breath-taking panoramic views of the city that can be enjoyed on the top floor. The Centre Pompidou is named for Georges Pompidou, French President from 1969 to 1974. Then-President Pompidou commissioned the building in 1969, finalising plans made by the previous president, Charles de Gaulle.
Centre Pompidou modelled in ARCHICAD 22
Earlier this month, Graphisoft announced details of ARCHICAD 22, the latest version of their award-winning model based design software. A remastered Façade Design workflow provides a flexible design environment for architects to create external or internal façades using modular structures and hierarchical, easily customisable patterns.
“Creation of precise vertical and horizontal junctions happen automatically. Element schedules provide very accurate lists of all details of the created frames, mullions and accessories”.
As part of GRAPHISOFT’s ‘Architectural Classics’ series of YouTube movies the video below showcases the Centre’s unique steel curtain wall and the series of escalator tunnels that climb up the building’s exterior.
Utilising ARCHICAD’s fully parametric customisable objects and MEP routing completes the models maintenance structures.
The Centre Pompidou
The Centre Pompidou has been an incredibly popular attraction for both locals and visitors. Intended to welcome some 8,000 people per day, attendance figures were at least five times higher than estimated, with more than 145 million visitors in the first two decades after the building opened. Now, more than 8 million people visit the Centre Pompidou annually, most of whom are tourists who visit to view the art collections or ascend to the top floor for the stunning panoramic views. Around half of those people visit the museum itself.
The history of the building is almost as fascinating as its contents. The Centre Pompidou was designed by a trio of architects: Renzo Piano of Italy, Richard Rogers of Britain, and Italian Gianfranco Franchini, who won the commission in 1971, from a pool of nearly 700 entries. Work began in 1971, with French company GTM completing the construction. At its completion in 1977 the building had cost 993 million French Francs. Decades later, renovation work was completed from 1996 to 2000, at a further cost of 576 million Francs.
The completed superstructure covers 2 hectares (5 acres) in total, with floor space of 103,305 square metres. The 7 levels of the centre reach over 42 metres in height and is an impressive sight from any distance and angle.
“But while the design is undoubtedly eye-catching, it became somewhat controversial after its completion, with one publication calling the design monstrous and another declaring its reaction to the building as love at second sight”.
For Rogers and Piano, building the Centre Pompidou coincided with a period in which the two opened their own studio, which operated between 1971 and 1977. The colour-coded maintenance structures that are so prominent on the Centre Pompidou were previously used in the design of their first project the B&B Italia administrative building in Como, Italy, where water and heating conduits were painted in bright primary colours.
After the 1970s collaboration with Rogers, Renzo Piano went on to design a number of award-winning projects and was a Pritzker Prize recipient in 1997. In their award citation, the jury compared Piano to Michelangelo and da Vinci, noting Piano’s ‘great sensitivity for his materials’ and commenting on the way in which the Pompidou design served as a prelude to the inventive experimentation of his later career.
While Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano went on to develop long and award-winning careers, Gianfranco Franchini returned to Italy to focus on smaller projects. Among Francini’s best-known projects are a library in Chieri, Piedmont and the 1985 restoration of Bordighera’s International Civic Library.