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Notes on the Geography of France: Paris 3: Modern: Photo 17

world pictures France: Paris 3: Modern

Five hundred feet to the east is the Centre Georges-Pompidou, alias the Beaubourg or perhaps the world's first urban oil refinery. Georges Pompidou didn't much like the design by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, but that's who the jurors, including Philip Johnson and Oscar Niemeyer, chose. The logic of the structure was simple: by putting all the utilities outside, the inside could be unobstructed space. One downside was that maintenance costs were high because so many parts were exposed. In addition, as Ayers writes, the building seemed to be "the architectural equivalent of sticking your tongue out at your elders and betters" (p. 96). Resistance was strong not only from the artistic community but from builders, which is why the materials, including huge underfloor girders, were made by Krupp in Germany. The building has proven highly popular, however, with the "caterpillar" escalators attracting people with no interest in the modern art on display inside. The building boosted the whole neighborhood, and this "Beaubourg effect" may help explain why Bilbao turned to Frank Gehry.

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