Pyramide du Louvre
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Architect I. M. Pei
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Location Paris, France   map
Date 1989   timeline
Building Type art museum entrance
 Construction System glass and steel rods and cable
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style Modern
Notes A new visitor entrance to the Louvre Museum complex, connecting elegantly to expanded galleries below the courtyards.


Photo, Pyramide through a Louvre passageway

Photo, looking in through the pyramid, on a rainy day

Photo, Overview from southeast




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Section Drawing

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Discussion Pyramide du Louvre Commentary

"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."

— Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. p407.

"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."

— from Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. p275-278


Address: Cour Napoleon, 75001 Paris, France.

Sources on Pyramide du Louvre

Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-01328-0. LC 92-18415. NA2750.H48 1993. discussion p275-278.

Johnson Architectural Images. Copyrighted slides in the Artifice Collection.

Kevin Matthews, University of Oregon. Slides from photographer's collection, August 1992. PCD.3189.1011.1916.008.

Josep Montaner. New Museums. London: Architecture and Technology Press, 1990. detail, p84. detail, p82.

Alene Stickles, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, June 1993. PCD.2365.1012.0634.032.

Carter Wiseman. I. M. Pei: a Profile in American Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. Color photo of exterior, p242. Color photo of interior spiral stairs that lead up towards the pyramid entrance, p244. Color photo of framed view, p243.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Pyramide du Louvre


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