Building projects

Pinault’s (circular) designs on Paris

Billionaire seals deal to create museum in historic former stockmarket building


The French billionaire François Pinault wants to create a "completely circular museum”, said his preferred architect, Tadao Ando who has been charged with creating such a space to display Pinault’s collection in his home city of Paris. The €108m project is scheduled for completion in late 2018 for an opening planned in early 2019. 

In the heart of Paris, between the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou, the site, which was the first circular building built in France ever, was once used to store wheat, then served as home for the commodity stock market. “All historical parts will be respected and restored,” said the former minister for culture and Pinault’s confidant, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, at a press conference today (26 June).

Tadao Ando plans to insert a central cylinder into the core of the building, up to the first floor. The cylinder will be made of metal and covered by concrete slabs similar to those used in several of his other projects, including the Punta della Dogana for the Pinault Foundation in Venice. It will provide 3,000 sq. m of exhibition space, accessed by a walkway curled around the internal facade of the building and topped by a glass dome. It will also feature a 300-seat auditorium below ground level, along with a vast foyer and a black-box theatre for video installations and experimental performances.

“With the creation of this new museum, I am writing the next chapter of my cultural project, whose goal is to share my passion for contemporary art with as broad an audience as possible. This story began in Venice more than ten years ago, when I opened Palazzo Grassi, then the Punta della Dogana. These two spaces will maintain a close and constant contact with their Parisian sibling,” Pinault said at the press conference presenting the building plans with his son, François-Henri Pinault. “The site will be 100% devoted to contemporary art, not Modern or classical,” said Martin Béthenod, the deputy director of Collection Pinault-Paris. “As in Venice, the Paris museum will show works from the Pinault collection and present living artists." 

Without naming it directly, François Pinault and Aillagon emphasised the differences between the project and the city’s Vuitton Foundation, which has recently been criticised in the French press for relying heavily on state support (firms can deduct 60% of their investment in an art foundation from their profits). With a 50-year lease from the city, the new site relies entirely on the family company, Financière Pinault. “When I see how difficult conditions are for so many today, and in view of the many priorities the government has to deal with, I would have considered it scandalous to rely on public help,” Pinault said. 

CORRECTION: This article was corrected on 27 June to reflect that François Pinault's museum would not be the world's "first circular museum".