A Pathside Pompidou

John Hill
3. June 2021
Visualization courtesy of OMA

The Centre Pompidou and the mayor of Jersey City have announced that the Pompidou will open its newest outpost in Jersey City, New Jersey, in the city-owned Pathside Building that will be renovated by OMA New York under partner Jason Long.

"Centre Pompidou x Jersey City" is the first and only North American partnership for the Parisian institution that has created numerous outposts in recent years, most notably the Shigeru Ban-designed museum in Metz, France, the KANAL - Centre Pompidou in Brussels, and West Bund Shanghai. Today's announcement that the Pompidou selected Jersey City as its next partner is a bit surprising, especially considering the Pompidou made the determination without visiting the Pathside Building, the first time it has signed a contract remotely, per the New York Times. The building is located, appropriately, next to a PATH transit station and is close to Journal Squared, a planned three-tower residential development, one of many developments transforming the Jersey City district it is named for. The Journal Square area is just a 15-minute train ride from Lower Manhattan.

Existing Pathside Building with Journal Squared in the background. (Photo courtesy of OMA)

Like other Pompidou outposts, the Centre Pompidou × Jersey City partnership will enable the Pathside Building to display artworks from the Pompidou's huge collection — the largest in Europe in terms of modern and contemporary art. A five-year contract between Jersey City and the Pompidou will start, per the Times, in 2024, when the building renovation is expected to be complete; an option for extension will then follow. The timing is good for the Pompidou, which is shuttering its famed Parisian building for a much-needed renovation, from late 2023 until 2027, when Jersey City, its other outposts, and institutions around France will display some of the museum's "homeless" artworks. The year 2025 should see the completion of a planned "art factory" that the Pompidou announced in 2019.

Existing conditions. (Photo courtesy of OMA)

The 58,000 square-foot (5,400 m2) Pathside Building was purchased by the administration of Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop from Hudson County Community College in 2018. Plans to convert the building to residences at the time were reoriented to cultural uses, with the intent of establishing Jersey City "as a larger destination for the arts," per today's announcement. The city hired OMA New York around the time of the purchase to develop a strategic plan and aid in the search for a cultural partner (PDF link). According to today's announcement, the Pompidou's "dedication to education and cultural organizations" matched up with "Jersey City’s and the community’s ambitions for the building."

Image courtesy of OMA

Preliminary images reveal that OMA and Jason Long are taking a light hand to the Pathside Building, which was part of a trolley service compound when it was built in 1912. The rendering at top shows the exterior retaining the historical character of the building, while the building section and foam model reveal interiors that are fairly open, much as the gutted building is now. Things will no doubt change, though, as OMA / Jason Long work with Jersey City and the Pompidou on turning Pathside into Centre Pompidou × Jersey City between now and 2024.

Image courtesy of OMA

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