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Structure 145

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Centre Pompidou, or Beaubourg as it was first called, was won in an open international competition by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in July 1971 from among 687 entries. Piano and Rogers had been encouraged to participate in the competition by Ted Happold who headed the Structures 3 group at Ove Arup & Partners, engineers, in London. Peter Rice was an associate and had returned to London three years before, after working for several years on the Sydney Opera House. The idea of structure as a framework was very much a current preoccupation. It suggested a permanent structural element which could carry a variable, perhaps even temporary, infill. Flexibility was the idea which acted as powerful motivation and could justify many architectural decisions. Large clear spaces, and thus long spans, were considered important if flexibility was to be achieved; the span at Beaubourg was to be 44.8 m (147 ft).