The Louvre Pyramid
May 15, 2010 Leave a comment
The Louvre Pyramid (Pyramide du Louvre) is a large glass and metal pyramid, surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard (Cour Napoleon) of the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) in Paris. The large pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. Completed in 1989, it has become a landmark of the city of Paris.
Commissioned by the President of France François Mitterrand in 1984, it was designed by the architect I. M. Pei, who is responsible for the design of the Miho Museum in Japanamong others. The structure, which was constructed entirely with glass segments, reaches a height of 20.6 metres (about 70 feet); its square base has sides of 35 metres (115 ft). It consists of 603 rhombus-shaped and 70 triangular glass segments.
The pyramid structure was engineered by Nicolet Chartrand Knoll Ltd. of Montreal (Pyramid structure / Design Consultant) and Rice Francis Ritchie (also known as RFR) of Paris (Pyramid Structure / Construction Phase).
The pyramid and the underground lobby beneath it were created because of a series of problems with the Louvre’s original main entrance, which could no longer handle an enormous number of visitors on an everyday basis. Visitors entering through the pyramid descend into the spacious lobby then re-ascend into the main Louvre buildings. Several other museums have duplicated this concept, most notably the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The construction work on the pyramid base and underground lobby was carried out by the Vinci construction company.
La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid) is a skylight constructed in an underground shopping mall in front of the Louvre Museum inFrance. It may be thought of as a smaller sibling of the more famous Louvre Pyramid proper, yet turned upside down: its upturned base is easily overlooked from outside.
The pyramid marks the intersection of two main walkways and orients visitors towards the museum entrance. Tensioned against a 30-ton, 13.3-meter square steel caisson frame, the inverted pyramidal shape in laminated glass points downward towards the floor. The tip of the pyramid is suspended 1.4 meters (a little more than 4.5 feet) above floor level. Individual glass panes in the pyramid, 30 mm thick, are connected by stainless-steel crosses 381 mm in length. After dark, the structure is illuminated by a frieze of spotlights.
Directly below the tip of the downwards-pointing glass pyramid, a small stone pyramid (about one meter/three feet high) is stationed on the floor, as if mirroring the larger structure above: The tips of the two pyramids almost touch.
La Pyramide Inversée was designed by architects Pei, Cobb, Freed and Partners, and installed as part of the Phase II government renovation of the Louvre Museum. It was completed in 1993. In 1995, it was a finalist in the Benedictus Awards, described by the jury as “a remarkable anti-structure … a symbolic use of technology … a piece of sculpture. It was meant as an object but it is an object to transmit light.”