Pompidou-Metz by Shigeru Ban
by Philip Jodidio
Shigeru Ban has recently been spending almost three-quarters of his time outside Japan, and one main reason for this pattern is the fact that he was building the Centre Pompidou-Metz, an ambitious extension that the Parisian institution has undertaken in the eastern French city of Metz.
The decision to create an extension to the Centre Pompidou was taken in January 2003 by then-Minister of Culture Jean-Jacques Aillagon and the president of the Centre Pompidou, Bruno Racine. The City of Metz approved the project two months later and an architectural competition was announced on March 18 of the same year.
It was imagined by the authorities from the first that the new building should have an architectural impact similar to that created almost 30 years before by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in the Beaubourg of Paris.
It was also decided that the new building would carry forward the original broad cultural mandate of the Centre Pompidou, which includes various forms of artistic expression. The program called for just over 12,000 square meters (130,000 square feet) of space, slightly more than a tenth of the size of the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
A total of 157 teams from 15 countries submitted for the Centre Pompidou competition, a group that was reduced on May 27, 2003, to just six projects after six rounds of voting by the jury. The level of the competition was made clear by the list of architects retained for the second phase: Foreign Office Architects (FOA) from London; Herzog & de Meuron from Basel; Stéphane Maupin with the landscape architect Pascal Cribier from Paris; the Rotterdam architect Lars Spuybroek (NOX); Dominique Perrault, the architect of the French National Library, from Paris; and, finally, Shigeru Ban of Tokyo, teamed with Jean de Gastines from Paris and the London architect Philip Gumuchdjian.
The project of Shigeru Ban won the jury vote on November 26, 2003, with 14 of the 16 voting members opting for the proposal.
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This article is excerpted from Shigeru Ban: Complete Works 1985-2010 by Philip Jodidio, copyright © 2010, with permission of the publisher, Taschen.