Paris (CNN) — The third most visited cultural site in Paris needs a makeover. After enchanting art and architecture fans for 50 years with its inside-out construction, the Centre Pompidou is to close for five years for an overhaul.
The center, which contains galleries, a library and a restaurant within its groundbreaking exterior of pipes and conduits, will be shuttered from 2025 to 2030 to undergo repairs and construction work that officials say are needed to ensure the unusual building’s future.
France’s minister of culture, Rima Abdul Malak, announced the work earlier this month saying that the modernization and asbestos removal project, estimated to cost 260 million euros ($282 million), will “perpetuate its survival.”
The closure was initially expected to take place from September 2023, but has been postponed until after the Summer Olympics to be staged in Paris in 2024.
Located in the heart of Paris, the Pompidou – named after former French President Georges Pompidou – attracts several millions of visitors a year. The Pompidou also offers one of the best views of the city.
The refurbishment aims to reinvent the “original utopia” of the Centre Pompidou while responding to the cultural, societal and environmental challenges of the coming years, Laurent Le Bon, the landmark’s president, told CNN.
One of the highlights of the renovation will be a brand new 1,500-square-meter terrace with vistas over the west of the city. The work will also help reduce the center’s energy bill by 60%. “We are probably one of the most energy-consuming buildings in France so this is rather good news,” Le Bon said.
‘Our Lady of the Pipes’
In the meantime, visitors will still be able to access some of the Centre Pompidou’s highlights. The 400,000 books of its public library will move to Le Lumière, a temporary site in Paris’s Bercy district, while artworks from its National Modern Art Museum, will be exhibited across Paris, wider France and abroad.
Designed by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers – who both went on to create some of the most famous buildings of the past 50 years – the Centre Pompidou was built on a former parking lot. Pompidou himself was inspired by art museums across the Atlantic.
“I would like, passionately, for Paris to have a cultural center such as they have tried to create in the United States with unequal success so far, which would be both a museum and a center of creation,” he said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper in 1972.
But when architectural plans featuring external tubes and pipes were drawn up, the president was faced with skepticism. Critics said its blue, red and green pipes and nautical architecture would clash with the classic Haussmannian look of the City of Lights.
“It was nicknamed the ocean liner, the refinery, Our Lady of the Pipes,” recalls Laurent Le Bon. “When it came out of the ground in the heart of Paris – we’re really in historic Paris, in the Marais – it caused an aesthetic shock.”
Yet, the building that French poet Francis Ponge described as “a heart, a muscle, a pump breathing in and out in continuous beats” became a national landmark in the span of half a century. A space meant to live and breathe with its time, “not so much a monument, more, to invent a word, a moviment,” he wrote in his booklet “L’Écrit Beaubourg” in 1977.