Contributed by Project for Public Spaces
"I should passionately like Paris to have a cultural center which would at once be museum and center of creation" George Pompidou, 1969
The Centre Pompidou's success stems from its array of activities- attracting not only one time tourists, but parisians and locals to its complex. The building houses not only a collection of multi media modern and contemporary art, but is also the site of conferences and performance, several children's play areas, a library of public information, a current affairs room, a replica of Brancusi's sculpture studio by a seperate entrance, two restaurants, and a terrance overlooking Paris and the crowded public square below. The plaza, a huge expanse of cobblestone is an opening in an otherwise dense urban area. The grade tilts gradually down toward the museum entrance. There is nowhere to sit, but crowds gather to watch street performers to meet and chat or wait for their friends. This lack of seating is a boon to the cafes that line the space: as with the Piazza San Marco, here is where you go to kick back and watch the passing scene (The Beauborg Cafe offers the best view of goings-on in the plaza, and its patrons, perched on uncomfortable seats in a stark, arty setting, are also on display.) Yes, there's a price for such entertainment - a cup of coffee or a cocktail - but it's good for hours, if not the entire afternoon or evening. To its credit, the plaza succeeds where other such open expanses in dense urban settings have failed.
History & Background
The Centre Pompidou is a unique architectural creation, now an icon of the Parisian landscape. All functional elements such as elevators, escalators, stairways, heating ducts form the building's exterior texture and are painted in bold primary colors. The interior space is 80,000 square feet and six stories high.