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Rogers lashes out at 'tragic' £54m Pompidou centre refit

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Pompidou bosses ruled against key parts of Richard Rogers' and Renzo Piano's masterplan for the Paris cultural centre's renovation, it has emerged.

Lord Rogers last week branded the result of the £54 million refit 'tragic' after the centre's management decided to provide access to the popular library by building two new internal escalators and a lift.

The addition breaks with Rogers' and Piano's original design which confined pedestrian traffic to the exterior of the building, keeping floor space free for exhibitions.

'This shaft not only disrupts the open flow of floor space but also takes the majority of visitors away from the glazed piazza facade into the depth of the building, dramatically reducing the dynamic interaction between 'people on facade' and 'people on piazza,' Rogers said after the centre reopened on New Year's Day after more than two years of closure.

Part of the refit scheme drawn up by Rogers and Piano aimed to solve the problem of the congested entrance formerly used by both library and gallery visitors. According to Giorgio Bianchi, partner at Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which oversaw the refit, the two architects proposed a separate access for the first, second and third floor library by a single upward escalator on the inside of the building, while downward traffic would be served by its famous facade-mounted escalators.

But the centre appointed a separate architect, Jean-Francois Bodin, to refurbish the library and he has installed a shaft with two escalators and a lift which break up the formerly seamless floor plates. A second change means that gallery visitors now pay their FFr30 (£3) entrance fee before entering the glazed escalators on the facade. Riding to the top of the building to take in the Paris roofscape used to be free. Rogers also objects to this.

A spokeswoman at the Pompidou said that the change resulted from overcrowding in the escalators caused by tour guides taking parties up the escalators without paying to see the galleries.

'So far people seem happy to pay the price,' she said. On its reopening on 1 January and 2 January the centre received 80,000 visits. It was originally designed in 1977 for 5,000 visits per day.

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