The sprawling modernist Cultural Center in the heart of Paris, Centre Pompidou, is set to close from the year 2023 to 2026 for maintenance work. The daring inside-out museum building is located in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. 

Since its opening in 1977, the Center has had a provocative presence in the city. This bold industrial piece designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers is a striking contrast to the sensual architecture of the city. 

The structural and mechanical elements are exposed to the exterior through color-coded water pipes, air-conditioning ducts, and the “caterpillar” escalators sneaking up from the facade. Even though its presence is debated and criticized by many designers, one can’t deny the prominent presence it holds among all.

Pompidou Center to Close Completely for Renovations from 2023 to 2027 - Sheet1
Centre Pompidou clashing with traditional Parisian surroundings ©Francois Guillot-Getty Images

Pompidou Center houses the Musée National d’Art Moderne- the largest museum for modern art of Europe; Bibliothèque Publique d’Information—a vast public library; and IRCAM- a Center for music and acoustic research. It is known for the significant style of high-tech architecture. Despite its conspicuous modern design, the building has been signaling for maintenance work for some time now. 

France’s culture minister, Roselyne Bachelot, told the French newspaper, Le Figaro, that they had two options- either try to keep the Pompidou Center open during the maintenance work, which would have taken longer, or allow it to be closed completely for the duration. She chose the second as it would be for a shorter duration and a little less expensive. 

According to the newspaper, officials said that many components of the building which were seen as shockingly modern are now at the end of their lifespan which includes an antiquated heating and cooling system, escalators and elevators that break down, and asbestos that must be removed. The renovations are estimated to cost about $243 million. The hope is to wind up the work to celebrate the institution’s 50th anniversary in 2027.

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Detailing Exterior Facade of Centre Pompidou © Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners (RSHP)

The construction work of the Center will begin at the end of 2023 and is scheduled to complete by the end of 2026. Cultural Heritage and Real Estate Project operator, L’Oppic will be working on the project management of the renovation project. 

From removal of asbestos and bay window, to repair of elevators and escalators, to treatment of corrosion and replacement of air-conditioning systems; the structure will have a complete make-over! 

The renovation work will focus on three main objectives—the reliability of the installations; renovation and energy optimization; and fire safety and accessibility. These works are all linked to the run-down nature of the structure and once fixed, will ensure its standing in present time requirements of environmental, health, and energy standards. 

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Escalator View from Centre Pompidou © Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners (RSHP)

The details of the three years renovation work were revealed in a press conference.

  • The reliability of the installations will include complete removal of asbestos from the facade and a replacement to all the bay windows will give a new look to the facade. Corrosion treatment of the main structure and metal locksmith works are also part of the exterior treatment. 

Interior installations will involve the repair of paintings and floors. Replacement or renovation of the forum’s elevators and escalators will be another major focus of the project. Other repairing elements like the replacement of deteriorated high current installation, sanitary plumbing installations, renewal of IT architecture and servers, modernization of low-current systems, and safety installations will be in order.

  • Renovation and energy optimization will include an adaptation of air treatment levels which will distribute into zones according to their use. A replacement of the old air conditioning system, and air handling units in the infrastructure will maintain proper ventilation. Renovation of air-cooling towers will be in line. Regulating the energy optimizers will be achieved by the replacement of low current systems.
  • Fire safety and accessibility are yet another issue that will be solved in this repair work. Fire safety is a top priority alongside universal-design accessibility to all. Treatment of fire stability by replacement of fire dampers and compliance with smoke extraction will be an important mark to achieve in this list of renovations. A universal design is a necessary long-term design solution appreciated and experienced by all.
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Exterior Facade of Centre Pompidou ©Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners (RSHP)

Serge Lasvignes, President of Centre Pompidou stated “These works are essential for it to remain this world icon of modernity and architecture which attracts millions of visitors every year.” This will be a second major upgrade that will require the building to stay fully closed. The last time the building was closed was during its 20th anniversary in the year 1997, for a three-year renovation period to increase the exhibition space.

The Pompidou Centre is planned to reopen with the new air of sustainability and energy efficiency as is necessary in the modern world we live in. This upgrade of the modernist structure will be yet another example of modern problems requiring modern solutions!

Author

Rashi Jain is an architect by profession and a writer by passion. She thinks every wall has a story that needs to be told. Her admirations vary from intricate sculptures of heritage buildings to the glamour of set designing. She believes that words have the power to change the world.

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