The Centre Pompidou, also known as the Pompidou Centre in English, is a complex building in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles, rue Montorgueil, and the Marais.
It was designed in the style of high-tech architecture by the architectural team of Richard Rogers, Su Rogers, Renzo Piano, along with Gianfranco Franchini. It houses the Bibliothèque publique d'information, a vast public library; the Musée National d'Art Moderne, which is the largest museum for modern art in Europe; and IRCAM, a centre for music and acoustic research. Because of its location, the Centre is known locally as Beaubourg. It is named after Georges Pompidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974 who commissioned the building, and was officially opened on 31 January 1977 by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. As of 2006, the Centre Pompidou has had over 180 million visitors since 1977 and more than 5,209,678 visitors in 2013, including 3,746,899 for the museum. The sculpture Horizontal by Alexander Calder, a free-standing mobile that is 7.6 m tall, was placed in front of the Centre Pompidou in 2012.
The idea for a multicultural complex, bringing together in one place different forms of art and literature, developed, in part, from the ideas of France's first Minister of Cultural Affairs, André Malraux, a proponent of the decentralisation of art and culture by impulse of the political power. In the 1960s, city planners decided to move the foodmarkets of Les Halles, historically significant structures long prized by Parisians, with the idea that some of the cultural institutes be built in the former market area. Hoping to renew the idea of Paris as a leading city of culture and art, it was proposed to move the Musée d'Art Moderne to this new location. Paris also needed a large, free public library, as one did not exist at this time. At first the debate concerned Les Halles, but as the controversy settled, in 1968, President Charles de Gaulle announced the Plateau Beaubourg as the new site for the library. A year later in 1969, the new president adopted the Beaubourg project and decided it to be the location of both the new library and a centre for the contemporary arts. In the process of developing the project, the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) was also housed in the complex.
The Rogers and Piano design was chosen among 681 competition entries. World-renowned architects Oscar Niemeyer, Jean Prouvé and Philip Johnson made up the jury. It was the first time in France that international architects were allowed to participate. The selection was announced in 1971 at a "memorable press conference" where the contrast between the sharply-dressed Pompidou and "hairy young crew" of architects represented a "grand bargain between radical architecture and establishment politics."
Address: Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
Tickets: €11–15 · centrepompidou.fr
Architecture firm: Piano & Rogers
Architects: Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Peter Rice, Su Rogers, Mike Davies, Gianfranco Franchini
Architectural styles: Brutalist architecture, High-tech architecture, Postmodern Architecture