Pompidou Centre, Paris, France

Iconic Building of the Month



In an interview with Dezeen Magazine, the Italian-British architect Richard Rogers related standing in the rain under an umbrella that a stranger had graciously shared with him outside Paris’s Pompidou Centre (le Centre Georges Pompidou in French). When Rogers told the woman that he had designed the building, she hit him on the head with the umbrella.

The reaction expressed that of many Parisians to the architecture of the museum and multi-disciplinary cultural center, which wears its structure on the outside. The result of this design is flexibility in the uses to which the insides are put. Among other things, the Pompidou is known to house the largest collection of modern art in Europe. Its design, by Rogers in collaboration with the Italian architect-engineer Renzo Piano and architect Gianfranco Franchini, was selected in an architectural competition that had attracted 681 entries.

While the Pompidou is considered high tech, Rogers cited the influence of the social changes of the 1960s on the design, particularly the French student and worker protests of 1968. The following year, French President Pompidou chose a site for the project, which was originally to be called the Centre Beaubourg, but was renamed following Pompidou’s death in office three years before the building was completed. The Pompidou opened in 1977 and has since become a favorite among tourists and Parisians alike.