Things are looking up for art and architecture fans keen to ride the glass-enclosed escalators snaking up the side of the Pompidou Centre in Paris: The museum’s “caterpillar” – or “chenille”, as it is commonly referred to in France – is almost back in action.
The escalators on the main façade had been closed for renovation since last summer, forcing visitors to use the building’s rear entrance. Today, after extensive renovation work, the ten escalators of the "caterpillar" of this groundbreaking building have been replaced, after over four decades of service.
Conceived by star architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the building's radical design pushes almost all its structural and mechanical elements to the exterior, freeing up vast exhibition spaces. The escalators were installed when the center opened in 1977. The caterpillar is made up of ten escalators that are each 16.7 meters in length. Each escalator weighs 10 700 kilograms.
"The major complexity of the renovation lay in the fact that we had to go through the existing structure of the building to remove and reinstall the escalators", said Johann Autechaud, supervisor at the Construction Department for Schindler in Paris. Moreover, the renovation required dismantling of the curved glass that encased the escalators, while two mobile cranes stationed in the square helped to detach the old escalators from the building. Delivered in two parts with balustrades dismantled, and then assembled on site, the new escalators have been manufactured to measure, so they fit snugly into their new home.
Art and architecture fans can rejoice – the wait is almost over: The escalators will be delivered to our customers in spring this year.