A controversy in the heart of Paris celebrates 35 years

The Centre Pompidou celebrates 35 years this year since it was completed in 1978.


The Centre Pompidou is a gigantic, futuristic arts center located in the Beaubourg {boh-boor'} district of Paris. President Georges Pompidou conceived (in 1969) the idea for Beaubourg, as the centre is also known, to bring art and culture to the "man in the street". It was completed in 1978 by the architects Renzo Piano of Italy and Richard Rogers of England, and by the engineering firm of Ove Arup and Partners of England. The structure forms a huge transparent box whose exposed frame of tubular steel columns carries trusses spanning the width of the building. External mechanical systems -- elevators painted red; escalators in clear plastic tunnels; and giant tubes for air (painted blue), water (green), and electricity (yellow) -- all are conspicuously placed on the outside of the main columns.


Considerable controversy arose over the assertive industrial style of the Centre Pompidou, whose bold "exo-skeletal" architecture contrasts violently with surrounding houses in the heart of an old section of Paris.


Its architects Renzo Piano of Italy and Richard Rogers of England once said that one of the reasons they won the competition was that they are the only one that actually produced a design that matched the competition requirements.


The Center has been hugely successful, however, with its many art exhibitions and the National Museum of Modern Art, attracting more than 160 million people since it opened.


The wear and tear resulting from some 26,000 daily visitors -- which is five times more than originally intended.

If you are in Paris, don't miss it.


Bon anniversaire!