Louvre Pyramid

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The Louvre Pyramid Louvre Pyramid.jpg
The Louvre Pyramid

The Louvre Pyramid (Pyramide du Louvre) is a large glass and metal pyramid designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei, 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, [1] it has become a landmark of the city of Paris.

Glass amorphous solid that exhibits a glass transition when heated towards the liquid state

Glass is a non-crystalline, amorphous solid that is often transparent and has widespread practical, technological, and decorative uses in, for example, window panes, tableware, and optoelectronics. The most familiar, and historically the oldest, types of manufactured glass are "silicate glasses" based on the chemical compound silica (silicon dioxide, or quartz), the primary constituent of sand. The term glass, in popular usage, is often used to refer only to this type of material, which is familiar from use as window glass and in glass bottles. Of the many silica-based glasses that exist, ordinary glazing and container glass is formed from a specific type called soda-lime glass, composed of approximately 75% silicon dioxide (SiO2), sodium oxide (Na2O) from sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), calcium oxide (CaO), also called lime, and several minor additives.

Pyramid structure whose shape is roughly that of a pyramid in the geometric sense

A pyramid is a structure whose outer surfaces are triangular and converge to a single point at the top, making the shape roughly a pyramid in the geometric sense. The base of a pyramid can be trilateral, quadrilateral, or of any polygon shape. As such, a pyramid has at least three outer triangular surfaces. The square pyramid, with a square base and four triangular outer surfaces, is a common version.

I. M. Pei Chinese-American architect (born 1917)

Ieoh Ming Pei, FAIA, RIBA, commonly known as I. M. Pei, is a Chinese American architect. Born in Guangzhou and raised in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Pei drew inspiration at an early age from the gardens at Soochow. In 1935, he moved to the United States and enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania's architecture school, but quickly transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was unhappy with the focus at both schools on Beaux-Arts architecture, and spent his free time researching emerging architects, especially Le Corbusier. After graduating, he joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and became a friend of the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. In 1948, Pei was recruited by New York City real estate magnate William Zeckendorf, for whom he worked for seven years before establishing his own independent design firm I. M. Pei & Associates in 1955, which became I. M. Pei & Partners in 1966 and later in 1989 became Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Pei retired from full-time practice in 1990. Since then, he has taken on work as an architectural consultant primarily from his sons' architectural firm Pei Partnership Architects.

Contents

Design and construction

Inside the Pyramid: the view of the Louvre Museum in Paris from the underground lobby of the pyramid. Louvre Palace.jpg
Inside the Pyramid: the view of the Louvre Museum in Paris from the underground lobby of the pyramid.

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 and metal poles, reaches a height of 21.6 metres (71 ft). [2] Its square base has sides of 34 metres (112 ft) and a base surface area of 1,000 square metres (11,000 sq ft). [3] It consists of 603 rhombus-shaped and 70 triangular glass segments. [2] The pyramid structure was engineered by Nicolet Chartrand Knoll Ltd. of Montreal (Pyramid Structure / Design Consultant) and Rice Francis Ritchie of Paris (Pyramid Structure / Construction Phase). [4]

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

François Mitterrand 21st President of the French Republic

François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was a French statesman who served as President of France from 1981 to 1995, the longest time in office in French history. As First Secretary of the Socialist Party, he was the first left-wing politician to be elected President of France under the Fifth Republic.

Rhombus quadrilateral in which all sides have the same length

In plane Euclidean geometry, a rhombus is a simple (non-self-intersecting) quadrilateral whose four sides all have the same length. Another name is equilateral quadrilateral, since equilateral means that all of its sides are equal in length. The rhombus is often called a diamond, after the diamonds suit in playing cards which resembles the projection of an octahedral diamond, or a lozenge, though the former sometimes refers specifically to a rhombus with a 60° angle, and the latter sometimes refers specifically to a rhombus with a 45° angle.

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.[ citation needed ] Visitors entering through the pyramid descend into the spacious lobby then ascend into the main Louvre buildings.[ citation needed ]

For design historian Mark Pimlott, "I.M. Pei’s plan distributes people effectively from the central concourse to myriad destinations within its vast subterranean network... the architectonic framework evokes, at gigantic scale, an ancient atrium of a Pompeiian villa; the treatment of the opening above, with its tracery of engineered castings and cables, evokes the atria of corporate office buildings; the busy movement of people from all directions suggests the concourses of rail termini or international airports." [5]

Pompeii Ancient Roman city near modern Naples, Italy

Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near modern Naples in the Campania region of Italy, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was buried under 4 to 6 m of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Volcanic ash typically buried inhabitants who did not escape the lethal effects of the earthquake and eruption.

Several other museums have duplicated this concept, most notably the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The Dolphin Centre, featuring a similar pyramid, was opened in April 1982, by Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. [6] The construction work on the pyramid base and underground lobby was carried out by the Vinci construction company. [7]

Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago) Science and technology museum in Illinois, US

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is located in Chicago, Illinois, in Jackson Park, in the Hyde Park neighborhood between Lake Michigan and The University of Chicago. It is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Initially endowed by Julius Rosenwald, the Sears, Roebuck and Company president and philanthropist, it was supported by the Commercial Club of Chicago and opened in 1933 during the Century of Progress Exposition.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, and the fourth largest in North America and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Dolphin Centre

The Dolphin Centre was a swimming and leisure facility in Romford, in the London Borough of Havering, England.

The Courtyard of the Louvre Museum at night. Louvre Museum Wikimedia Commons.jpg
The Courtyard of the Louvre Museum at night.
The Courtyard of the Louvre Museum during the day. Paris July 2011-27a.jpg
The Courtyard of the Louvre Museum during the day.

History

In 1839, according to one newspaper account, in ceremonies commemorating the "glorious revolution" of 1830, "The tombs of the Louvre were covered with black hangings and adorned with tricolored flags. In front and in the middle was erected an expiatory monument of a pyramidical shape, and surmounted by a funeral vase." [8]

Controversy

The construction of the pyramid triggered many years of strong and lively aesthetic and political debate. [9] Criticisms tended to fall into four areas: (1) the modernist style of the edifice being inconsistent with the classic French Renaissance style and history of the Louvre; (2) the pyramid being an unsuitable symbol of death from ancient Egypt; (3) the project being an immodest, pretentious, megalomaniacal folly imposed by then-President François Mitterrand; and (4) Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei being insufficiently French to be entrusted with the task of updating the treasured Parisian landmark. [10]

Those criticizing the aesthetics said it was "sacrilegious" to tamper with the Louvre's majestic old French Renaissance architecture, and called the pyramid an anachronistic intrusion of an Egyptian death symbol in the middle of Paris. [11] Meanwhile, political critics referred to the structure as Pharaoh Francois' Pyramid. [10] Many still continue to feel the harsh modernism of the edifice is out of place. [12] [13] [14]

During the design phase, there was a proposal[ by whom? ] that the design include a spire on the pyramid to simplify window washing. Pei objected, however, and this proposal was eliminated.

Urban legend of 666 panes

It has been claimed by some that the glass panes in the Louvre Pyramid number exactly 666, "the number of the beast", often associated with Satan. Dominique Stezepfandt's book François Mitterrand, Grand Architecte de l'Univers declares that "the pyramid is dedicated to a power described as the Beast in the Book of Revelation (...) The entire structure is based on the number 6."

The story of the 666 panes originated in the 1980s, when the official brochure published during construction did indeed cite this number (even twice, though a few pages earlier the total number of panes was given as 672 instead). The number 666 was also mentioned in various newspapers. The Louvre museum, however, states that the finished pyramid contains 673 glass panes (603 rhombi and 70 triangles). [2] A higher figure was obtained by David A. Shugarts, who reports that the pyramid contains 689 pieces of glass. [15] Shugarts obtained the figure from the Pei's offices.

Elementary arithmetic allows for easy counting of the panes: each of the three sides of the pyramid without an entrance has 18 triangular panes and 17 rows of rhombic ones arranged in a triangle, thus giving rhombic panes (171 panes total). The side with the entrance has 11 panes fewer (9 rhombic, 2 triangular), so the whole pyramid consists of rhombi and triangles, 673 panes total.

The myth resurfaced in 2003, when Dan Brown incorporated it in his best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code , in which the protagonist reflects that "this pyramid, at President Mitterrand's explicit demand, had been constructed of exactly 666 panes of glass — a bizarre request that had always been a hot topic among conspiracy buffs who claimed 666 was the number of Satan." [16] However, David A. Shugarts reports that according to a spokeswoman of the offices of Pei, the French President never specified the number of panes to be used in the pyramid. Noting how the 666 rumor circulated in some French newspapers in the mid-1980s, she commented: "If you only found those old articles and didn't do any deeper fact checking, and were extremely credulous, you might believe the 666 story." [15]

Comparison of approximate profiles of the Louvre Pyramid with other notable pyramidal or near-pyramidal buildings. Dotted lines indicate original heights, where data are available. In its SVG file, hover over a pyramid to highlight and click for its article. Comparison of pyramids.svg
Comparison of approximate profiles of the Louvre Pyramid with other notable pyramidal or near-pyramidal buildings. Dotted lines indicate original heights, where data are available. In its SVG file, hover over a pyramid to highlight and click for its article.

Pyramide Inversée

The Pyramide Inversée (Inverted Pyramid) is a skylight in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall in front of the Louvre Museum. It looks like an upside-down and smaller version of the Louvre Pyramid.

Renovation

Designed for a museum that attracted 4.5 million visitors a year, the pyramid proved inadequate by the time the Louvre's attendance had doubled in 2014. Between 2014 and 2017, the layout of the foyer area in the Cour Napoleon beneath the glass pyramid is undergoing a thorough redesign, including better access to the pyramid and the Passage Richelieu. [17]

See also

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References

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  2. 1 2 3 "Architecture: Louvre Pyramid". Glass on the Web. June 2005. Archived from the original on 12 January 2002. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  3. Official Press Release, Louvre. ""Pyramid" Project Launch: The Musée du Louvre is improving visitor reception (2014-2016)" (PDF). Louvre. p. 10. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  4. "Grand Louvre: Phase I". Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  5. Pimlott, Mark (2007). "The Grand Louvre & I.M. Pei". Without and Within: Essays on Territory and the Interior (Excerpt). Rotterdam: Episode Publishers. Retrieved 13 August 2012 via artdesigncafe.
  6. Steer, Phil. "Dolphin Centre: Brief History". Romford Now & Then. Archived from the original on 23 November 2011.[ self-published source ]
  7. "History". Vinci. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  8. "The Paris Sketch Book Of Mr. M. A. Titmarsh". Project Gutenberg.
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  11. Goldberger, Paul. "Pei Pyramid and New Louvre Open Today". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
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  15. 1 2 Secrets of the Code, edited by Dan Burstein, p. 259.[ full citation needed ]
  16. Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code, p. 21.[ full citation needed ]
  17. Pes, Javier (28 April 2014). "Louvre's Director Makes Unblocking Pyramid Bottleneck a Priority". The Art Newspaper . Archived from the original on 29 April 2014.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)

Coordinates: 48°51′39″N2°20′09″E / 48.860854°N 2.335812°E / 48.860854; 2.335812