Rendering of The Centre Pompidou X Jersey City, courtesy OMA
When The Centre Pompidou (Pompidou Center in English) opened in Paris in 1977, it was the first collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe. Famous as much for its inside-out building designed by Renzo Piano as for its artwork, the museum has in recent years opened satellite locations in Málaga, Spain, Brussels, and Shanghai. And come 2024, they’ll open their first North American outpost in Jersey City. According to a press release, the location “will launch a strong partnership aiming to reinvent, develop and activate Jersey City Journal Square’s iconic Pathside Building.”
Though some may find Jersey City an odd choice considering Manhattan is just across the Hudson, the city of 262,000 residents was recently ranked as the most diverse in the country. It also has a robust art scene, including a seven-year-old mural program that has created 153 public artworks, as well as the Mana Contemporary art center.
Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop, who was elected in 2013, has been a huge force behind the initiative to revitalize the city through the arts. “The hope is that we will be able to leverage the Pompidou’s expertise, their experience elsewhere in the world and their collection to create something really significant here,” he said in an interview with the New York Times.
The city’s downtown area has seen a huge resurgence over the past decade. It’s just one PATH stop from Manhattan, big-name companies like Goldman Sachs and Forbes have set up in the waterfront skyscrapers, and the Newark Avenue pedestrian mall is full of restaurants and shops. The Journal Square area is only one PATH stop farther, and thanks to a recent rezoning, it’s seeing a wave of new development, which is why the decision to bring the museum here makes so much sense for Mayor Fulop.
Current views of the Pathside Building, courtesy OMA
Historically, Journal Square was the main retail, commercial, and transit hub of Jersey City. The Pathside Building is located adjacent to the PATH station; it was built in 1912 as a PSE&G office building and was acquired by Hudson County Community College in the mid-1990s. In 2018, Jersey City and the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) purchased the building for $9 million to be converted into an arts center (there were previous plans to turn it into a high-rise residential tower). They released an Expression of Interest the following year, noting that the Pathside “is intended to serve as the neighborhood’s cultural heart.”
Pathside is four stories plus a basement, all of which have large open floor plates, and totals 58,000 square feet. OMA New York, led by Partner Jason Long, is behind the architectural plans for the building, which will preserve original historic elements such as brick masonry and terra cotta and limestone details. According to the Times, Mayor Fulop said he estimates the renovation will cost between $10 and $30 million, for which the city expects to “raise funds from the private sector and seek state subsidies.”
Centre Pompidou, Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers Architects. Photo © G. Meguerditchian / Centre Pompidou, 2020
As the Times notes, the Pompidou in Paris will close for a roughly four-year renovation in 2023, which will make its satellite locations even more important. The contract for the Centre Pompidou × Jersey City project will last for five years after its expected opening date in 2024, with the option for an extension. Like its other locations, this outpost will be not just an art museum but a cultural center, offering educational programming, live performances, and more. The full cultural agenda and leadership will be announced at a later date.
You can learn more about the Centre Pompidou X Jersey City project from Mayor Fulop in this video:
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