Centre Pompidou 2030

Moreau Kusunoki and Frida Escobedo to Renovate the Pompidou

23. June 2024
Artistic impression of the Forum and Agora at Centre Pompidou (Visualization © Moreau Kusunoki in association with Frida Escobedo)

The project, called Centre Pompidou 2030, will entail closing the museum, library, music center, and other facilities in the building for five years, reopening it in 2030. Such a closure has been anticipated for a few years, ever since the Pompidou made an announcement in early 2021 that the building would need to shutter entirely for a number of years for a renovation. At that time, the Pompidou would have been closing from 2023 to 2027, reopening on the 50th anniversary of the building's opening in 1977. 

Based on its new timeline, the Pompidou will remain open until September 2025, during which it will host numerous events and exhibitions, including one with Wolfgang Tillmans taking over the large second-floor library for a site-specific installation. Centre Pompidou 2030 is the second renovation of the iconic building; its first renovation was carried out by Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) from 1997 to 2000.

Artistic impression of the Forum and Agora at Centre Pompidou (Visualization © Moreau Kusunoki in association with Frida Escobedo)

In a statement from Moreau Kusunoki, the renovation “offers an opportunity to reconnect with some of the project’s founding principles,” primarily that it is an experimental space that can be constantly reinvented due to the highly flexible nature of its architecture. The building that Rogers and Piano designed following their 1971 competition win famously put vertical circulation and color-coded ducts and other services on the outside of the building, spanning the large floor plates with deep trusses (engineered by Peter Rice) to create flexible, column-free spaces for cultural uses. 

Moreau Kusunoki are aligning their design with the DNA of the building via a “careful, respectful yet confident approach,” and not overshadowing it through any overtly antithetical architectural gestures. “Dialogue with the Existing” is appropriately one of the four main conceptual axes that structure their renovation, the other three being “Physical and Visual Porosities,” “Clarity of Paths,” and “Activation and Requalification of Spaces.” The concept and design led Piano to say in a statement, “Their project is wholly in keeping with the building’s architecture while also leaving room for future renewal, and maintaining its integrity.”

Axonometric view – Agora, Forum, Mezzanine (Drawing © Moreau Kusunoki)

While the renderings shown here give a sense of the renovation project's interior ambitions, Centre Pompidou 2030 also includes subtle changes to the large sloping piazza fronting the building, including adding seating by the Brancusi Studio (RPBW, 1997), opening up a portion of that building, and further refurbishing it. The Forum, the vast indoor “piazza” that is the starting point for everyone's visit, will be opened up to the basement Agora via a larger stairwell and the elimination of visual obstacles, while an enlarged mezzanine will help “form a continuous whole, echoing the Chenille escalators at the front,” per Moreau Kusunoki. 

On Level 1 will be the New Generation hub, “envisaged as a reassuring, stimulating, comfortable and inclusive entrance” toward other parts of the Pompidou, including the Bpi (Bibliothèque publique d'information) and the children's library one level down. The Bpi itself on Level 2 will be divided via glass partitions that maintain visual transparency and feature “a series of small structures scale along the circuit,” such as seating, terminals, and information desks that all aim at “fostering togetherness and sharing.” Upstairs, the museum will be renovated by its in-house architects and scenographers.

Artist’s impression of the New Generation hub at Centre Pompidou (Visualization © Moreau Kusunoki in association with Frida Escobedo)

Moreau Kusunoki, which won the competition for the unbuilt Guggenheim Helsinki in 2015 and is currently realizing the Powerhouse Parramatta in Sydney, is leading the design on Centre Pompidou 2030, while Frida Escobedo Studio, architect of the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion, is billed as co-designer. Also involved is AIA Life Designers, the French engineering firm that has been working with the Pompidou since 2020 on the technical components of the project, addressing issues related to security, sustainable development, and accessibility. Both designers and engineer are consulting with Piano, who also served on the competition jury for Centre Pompidou 2030. So it is no wonder he believes “the winners of this competition have fully understood the spirit of the Centre Pompidou.”

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