Won in competition and designed in partnership with Renzo Piano, the Centre Pompidou brought together the themes - skin and structure, technology and flexibility, movement and anti-monumentalism - which have characterised Rogers' architecture from the mid 1960s.
The building was envisaged as a cross between 'an information-oriented computerised Times Square and the British Museum' , a democratic place for all people, all ages and all creeds, simultaneously instant and solemn, and the centrepiece of a regenerated quarter of the city. It was to be 'a giant climbing frame' , the antithesis of existing cultural monuments.
Since half of the total available site was set aside as a public square, the building had to be tall enough to accommodate the 90,000 square metres of space demanded by the brief. The decision to place structure and services on the exterior was driven primarily by the need for internal flexibility, the scheme provided huge expanses of uninterrupted space on open floors nearly 50 metres deep.
The structural system is a braced and exposed steel superstructure with reinforced concrete floors. External services give scale and detail to the facades, while the celebration of movement and access is provided by lifts and escalators which, like the services, are placed outside the building envelope.
The building and great public square were intended to revitalise an area of Paris that had been in decline. The neighbouring Marais district, now vibrant and multi-cultural, underlines the enormous success of the Pompidou's role as a catalyst for urban regeneration. On completion, the Centre Pompidou was an immediate success. In the 27 years in which the building has been open,it has become the most visited building in Europe and continues to attract some seven million visitors a year, more than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower combined . The piazza is enjoyed by Parisians, tourists, picnickers, buskers and those who simply enjoy watching the world go by in one of the most popular public spaces in a city already famous for its gardens, parks and street culture.
Half the available site area was allocated to public open space in the form of a large piazza. Bordering the piazza, Rue St. Martin was regenerated so that the activities of the cafes, restaurants and shops spill out into the newly created public square, fusing the life of the surrounding streets with those of the new building.
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