Louvre Pyramid in Paris

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Loue Lens

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Commissioned by the President of France François Mitterrand in 1984, it was designed by the renouned architect I. M. Pei. The structure, which was constructed entirely with glass segments, reaches a height of 21.6 metres (about 71 feet); its square base has sides of 35 metres (115 ft). It consists of 603 rhombus-shaped and 70 triangular glass segments.

The Pyramid is conceived to addressed the narrow entrance to the Louver Musium. An international competition was called and I.M. Pie’s modern design was chosen. It did raise quite a lot of debate in the architectural and design community to have a modern structure right in the middle of the square with traditional

According to Dennis Sharp “Of all the Grands Projets in Paris, none created such a stir as the Pei Pyramids in the courtyard of the famous Louvre Museum. Spectacular in concept and form, they provide a startling reminder of the audacious ability of modern architects to invigorate and re-circulate traditional architectural forms…The main Pyramid is basically a complex inter-linked steel structure sheathed in reflective glass. In fact it is an entrance doorway providing a long-overdue entrance portico to the main galleries of the Louvre. As one descends into the interior entrance foyer, the dramatic nature of the intervention becomes apparent. The main Pyramid, which certainly disturbs the balance of the old Louvre courtyard, is countered by two smaller pyramids, which provide further light and ventilation to the subterranean spaces.”

And Paul Heyer says; “Probably the pièce de résistance of Pei’s extraordinary legacy to modernism, his sense of quiet good taste, consummate attention to detail, and clarity of concept is his intervention into the Cour Napoleon at the Louvre. Beneath the new, elegantly ‘hard’ and restrained surface of the Cour is accommodated a vast new program of 650,000 square feet of much-needed support spaces for the Louvre. Poised as perfect complement and counterpoint, and rising only a modest 71 feet above the ground, is the symbol of the project, the central entrance pyramid. Despite an almost ephemeral presence that derives from an ingeniously conceived triangular web of supports, clad in a wonderful warm ochre, lightly tinted glass especially drawn by St. Gobain to be compatible with the honey-colored stone of the Second Empire facades of the old Louvre, it was controversial from its announcement in 1985 as one of President Mitterand’s most ambitious ‘grand projets.’ Obviously any insertion would have been anathema to those who hold sacred and untouchable the integrity of the Louvre’s classical presence. Time has somewhat blunted the critics against this example of modernism at its most elegant, although it remains less than successful as a sheltered entrance against the elements and the three much smaller flanking pyramids seem aesthetically gratuitous. However, at times the almost fluid, dematerialized presence of the pyramid establishes without bombast, a compelling brave concept whose intent is to be neither aggressive nor subservient but to complement through restraint. Through simplicity the new stands with the old, each acknowledging the other.”

During my very short visit to the museum and the above are the photographs i could capture. The weather was not in my favour as it was an over cast sky with constant drizzle.

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