The new Pompidou Center in Metz, France, is generating big buzz in the architectural world. Its striking roof has been compared to a floppy hat or a swimming manta ray. (Photos by Jacques Brinon/Associated Press)

It’s France’s newest architectural wonder, and it looks something like an enormous, white floppy sun hat.

Or a giant, swimming manta ray. Or maybe an alien spacecraft.

The new Pompidou Center art museum in the eastern French city of Metz has generated a big buzz in the architecture world, largely for its complex freeform roof. When it opened to the public last week, the strange and arresting building likely overshadowed the Picassos, Dalis and Warhols it is exhibiting.

The building is all the more surreal for its setting amid the stern gray clock towers and church steeples of Metz, chosen for its strategic location near Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium.


Angela Doland