With the retirement of heralded Italian-British architect Richard Rogers still relatively fresh in the news, now comes the development that what’s arguably the Pritzker Prize winner’s most famous work, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, could close its doors to the public for up three years while undergoing extensive renovations. As reported by the Art Newspaper, the landmark cultural complex could alternately remain partially open during a potentially disrupting refurbishment that lasts seven years.
Completed in 1977 with an audacious design by Rogers in partnership with Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini, the Pompidou Center is a preeminent example of European high-tech postmodern architecture and was similarly shuttered from 1997 to 2000 while undergoing a three-year revamp that dramatically improved accessibility and circulation and expanded exhibition space. This late 1990s facelift also ensured that the hordes of foreign tourists who had grown accustomed to riding the then-20-year-old Pompidou Center’s iconic, glass tube-encased external elevators to its popular sixth-floor observation terrace gratis had to, moving forward, first buy a ticket to the star attraction of the massive complex, the Musée National d’Art Moderne.
As relayed by Serge Lasvignes, president of the Pompidou Center, to French newspaper Le Figaro in an extensive interview, the planned renovations at the Pompidou Center sounds like it will be even more involved than the ones that prompted the three-year closure in the late 1990s.
“No substantial work has been done on the building since it opened in 1977,” Lasvignes explained to Le Figaro. “There are two hypotheses: either we do [the refurbishment] by closing it completely and it will last three years. [Or] we stay open and it will last seven years. But this poses additional problems, including that of asbestos removal.”
Both scenarios are now being weighed by the French government. A potential three-year closure of the Pompidou Center would kick off in 2023 and cost roughly $235 million according to Lasvignes. Smaller renovation projects that kicked off last year and don’t’ require the full or partial closure of the building are still underway and expected to wrap up next year.
Following a months-long closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the center reopened in July. Lasvignes told Le Fiagro that the center had lost roughly $23.5 million due to the crisis but had managed to save a fair amount of money—about $9.4 million—by simply postponing planned projects and exhibitions in lieu of canceling them.