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Jan Sircus: Centre Georges Pompidou (March 4, 1981)01:35:11

Jan Sircus explains how the Centre Georges Pompidou came about, discussing the initial intent, the politics involved,, and the architectural competition. He discusses the general concept of the Rogers/Piano proposal, namely the externalizing of service zones and the clearing of internal spaces for flexibility of program. Sircus comments on the importance of breaking the competition height rules which allowed them to maintain much of the site as public plaza - a main factor in being selected.

Sircus puts forth a thesis: The Pompidou center is not a building based on futuristic ideals, but in fact nostalgic for the past. He compares the Pompidou to the stepping forms and open frame structure of Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace, to the French winter gardens of steel and glass, and to the nearby Les Halles. From there, he launches into an explanation of the building structure taken from bridge building, and the relationship to the Eiffel Tower in the use of connections as decorative elements.

Sircus explains the two main service systems on the exterior of the building - circulation and mechanical. He relates the system of ducting and the glass tubes of the circulation galleries to an erector set and describes the difficulty they had in convincing the builders to use the pre-designed connection system rather than drilling new bolt holes of their own. One particularly interesting and surprising element of the construction process was the use of separate un-related contractors for each system. This meant that as different components were completed, other elements had to be re-designed and coordinated to fit precisely and avoid adding holes in wall paneling for ducting etc.

Sircus concludes his lecture with a walk-through of the Pompidou. He describes the efforts to allow maximum flexibility in the building, including attachments in each bay for restroom configurations and attempts to hang walls from the ceiling for easy shifting of displays. Sircus returns to his discussion of the Frenchness of the building, asserting its historical precedent and relating the popularity of the building despite or as a result of the controversy surrounding it.

Sircus follows his lecture with a question and answer session, touching on budgeting the design team and fire protections. He asserts that, not accounting for additional requests added later, the building came in under budget due to the practicality and prefabrication of the system they implemented. He then provides a detailed description of innovative fire protections including ceramic tile layered above structural members, hollow columns through which water could be pumped in addition to newly available material choices.

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