The adaptive reuse of Paris’ former commodities exchange into a contemporary art museum, the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection by Tadao Ando, is something else.
June 9th, 2021
Places steeped in history always present provocative intervention projects, but the adaptive reuse of Paris’ former commodities exchange into a contemporary art museum, the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection by Tadao Ando, is in a class of its own.
“This new museum invites us to take risks, to outstrip our own limits and open ourselves to what others have to offer,” says François Pinault, who puts the ‘Pinault’ in the Pinault Collection. If it weren’t for the French billionaire and avid art collector’s assets—both financial and artistic—Paris’ breathtaking new cultural venue wouldn’t exist today.
The same goes for Tadao Ando, NeM Agency and Bouroullec brothers, Ronan and Erwan. They represent just a few of the internationally esteemed figures involved in the reimagining of the former Parisian commodities exchange; whose names alone are enough to give gravitas to the whole project. Add to that the building’s stalwart legacy—a culmination of four centuries’ worth of architectural innovation and technical prowess—and we have ourselves an exemplary case of architectural history having been reworked by contemporary design.
Pinault engaged Ando to design the transformation of the old stock exchange into the newest gallery and museum within the Pinault Collection portfolio in 2016, having taken a 50-year lease agreement on the Bourse with the City of Paris. Ando responded to the bold brief in true form, with a design intervention that’s so minimalist it’s monumental.
All in all, Tadao Ando’s Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection comprises seven gallery spaces, a 284-seat auditorium and a top-floor restaurant. Indisputably, the emblematic and architectural heart of the new premises is the Rotonde, in which Ando has cast a 30-foot-tall cylinder in his signature material, concrete. Following the curve of the existing structure, the pure simplicity of the concrete addition sits in juxtaposition with elaborate, centuries old architectural artifice, culminating in a contemplative central gallery space, awash with natural light.
The Passage surrounding the Rotonde offers a stroll between the nineteenth century (the restored facade, its woodwork, light fixtures, floor mosaics, and a glimpse of the marouflaged canvases of the cupola) and the twenty-first century (Tadao Ando’s shuttered concrete wall and staircase). Accessed by the staircase that coils around Tadao Ando’s concrete cylinder, designed in collaboration with Lucie Niney and Thibault Marca of NeM agency, the spaces in the basement are dedicated to artworks in which sound constitutes an essential material.
There’s no denying that Ando has a knack for transforming places into cultural temples. Nor is the Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection the first such space the revered Japanese contemporary architect has designed for the French financier. Since meeting fortuitously at a dinner party — hosted by Karl Largerfeld, no less — in 1997, Pinault and Ando have established an ongoing collaborative relationship, delivering several formidable cultural spaces as a result.
“I love Tadao Ando’s minimalist aesthetic. His architecture is silent,” says Pinault. “No artifice, no unnecessary detail disturbs his architectural gesture, which succeeds in combining absolute simplicity and extreme complexity.”
It’s evident that Pinault’s respect and admiration for Ando is reciprocated. “At the root of it all is his absolute love and trust for ‘art’ and his pure philanthropic spirit of sharing its culture with everyone. He is a rare leader who carries a great deal of responsibility in this day and age, yet still looks far into the future,” says the architect.
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