Lord Rogers of Riverside – The Inside track on the Pompidou
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the completion of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, designed by Lord Rogers of Riverside and Renzo Piano.
The building had always divided opinion. National Geographic described the reaction to the initial design as “love at second sight” and an article in Le Figaro declared “Paris has its own monster, just like the one in Loch Ness.” But two decades later, while reporting on Rogers’ winning the Pritzker Prize in 2007, The New York Times noted that the design of the Centre “turned the architecture world upside down”.
Here we look back to the occasion of the Pompidou Centre’s 30th birthday when Richard Rogers spoke to WAN with his son Abe at the opening of a retrospective exhibition at the Pompidou Centre.
Speaking to Michael Hammond at the time of the podcast in 2007 Richard Rogers said:
“At the time Renzo (Piano) and I were without work. We were amazed to win the competition for the Pompidou Centre, and amazed that the French trusted us. Initially there was lots of opposition to the plans from the media.
“One side of the building is open to the public with exposed walkways and bridges. It has changed what was once a very poor area into one of the more beautiful areas of Paris.
“It was an extremely brave commission for the city. Most of the buildings in the centre of the Paris are 18th century.”
Richard then went on to tell the tale of an unusual encounter with a local resident that summed up the strength of feeling that some people have towards the building: “It was raining and we were sheltering under a local lady’s umbrella. She asked me what I thought of the building and I said I was very proud of it as I was the architect. With that the lady hit me with her umbrella!”
After the Pompidou Centre Richard went on to design the Grade 1 listed Lloyds building in London, another building that attracted mixed reviews at the time of its completion. His feelings towards modern building design are neatly summed up: “You can learn from the past but you must build in the future.”