The Louvre Pyramid (Pyramide du Louvre) is a large glass and metal pyramid, surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard (Cour Napoléon) 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. 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 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 the 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
The construction of the pyramid triggered a considerable amount of controversy because many people felt that the futuristic edifice looked quite out of place in front of the Louvre Museum with its classical architecture. Certain detractors ascribed a “Pharaonic complex” to Mitterrand. Others lauded the juxtaposition of contrasting architectural styles as a successful merger of the old and the new, the classical and the ultra-modern.
The main pyramid is actually the largest of several glass pyramids that were constructed near the museum, including the downward-pointing La Pyramide Inversée that functions as a skylight in an underground shopping complex in front of the museum. During the design phase, there was a proposal that the design include a spire on the pyramid to simplify window washing. This proposal was eliminated because of objections from I. M. Pei.
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