The beautiful Louvre Pyramid is considered one of the world’s most iconic design masterpieces.
30 Years after the pyramid was unveiled, the Louvre stands in front of the world’s most visited museum, and despite its youth, the pyramid has become an extremely important part of Paris’ renowned cityscape. Vying with the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower for the title of Paris’ most recognizable landmark, the Louvre Pyramid officially opened in 1989 and it instantly gained notoriety and not the kind that designers were really going for.
The structure, which is made from metal and glass was designed by Chinese-born and founder of Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, the late I.M Pei,, sits atop the Louvre Pyramid’s underground, yes still being filled with light, a lobby that connects the museum’s three pavilions Denon, Richelieu and Sully. The Pyramid has a base and an apex of 71 feet (21 meters), its dimensions form a miniature Great Pyramid of Giza.
The Louvre Pyramid was first constructed in the 21st century as a fortress, what is known today as the Louvre Museum which served at a royal residence before it becomes a public museum in 1793 after the French Revolution. So how exactly did a modern take on the ancient Egyptian architecture end up in the City of Light? Below are some interesting facts about the Louvre Pyramid.
The pyramid was built to serve a purpose
While the Louvre Pyramid may be an architectural marvel, earning a lot of attention just by being there, the Pyramid was originally commissioned for a functional purpose. In 1981, the Grand Louvre project was announced by the French President François Mitterrand, this included a redesign of the museum and the addition of space. The museum would incorporate the Richelieu Wing of the palace, and at the time, it was serving as the home of the Ministry of Finance. Once the Grand Louvre project was completed, the exhibition space doubled, with the pyramid then acting as the new visitor entrance, it also offered access into the museum’s three pavilions. In order for this program to be successful, it required more than 92 000 square meters of floor space. It was not possible to imagine creating so much space near the Louvre above the ground, which is why they needed to have it beneath the courtyard. They have experimented with many different forms, they even tried a cube or a curved shape. But when looking at the type of silhouette the Louvre has, there is no curve, thus they had to exclude the curves. In conclusion, they decided that the pyramid was the only shape that was going to be acceptable for the Louvre.
The structure, which is made from glass and metal, was originally designed by Chinese-born architect I.M Pei, the founder of Pei Cobb Freed and Partners.
The Louvre Pyramid was called “Architectural Joke”
Pei was selected by Mitterrand for the Grand Louvre project, eschewing an architecture competition often held for bigger public projects, this was a decision that “infuriated many” according to the Architect Magazine. The design that Pei came up with was not much better received than Mitterrand’s unilateral decision, and the criticism abounded.
Pei explains that he prepared himself for controversy in this instance and that he was not at all surprised when they were attacked.
According to a press statement from the Louvre, when the design was first presented, it brought up a lot of media controversy and also unleased passions on both technical and aesthetic grounds. But today, we celebrate the Louvre Pyramid as part of the Paris landscape, much like the initially controversial Eiffel Tower. Even though the Pyramid is referred to as a “scar on the face of Paris” by Captain Bezu Fache in the “Da Vinci Code” film, an article that came out in the Arch Daily stated that the juxtaposition of the modern structure and the French Renaissance architectural style of the museum offers quite the complimentary effect which helps enhance each of the design’s details as well as its beauty.
The Pyramid is actually too small now
Despite the initial intention of the Louvre Pyramid to improve visitor reception along with the additional 650 000 square feet of space underground, the final accommodations of the Grand Louvre project have already been surpassed by the museum’s continuously growing popularity.
The Louvre Pyramid accommodated 3.5 million visitors in 1989, however, in 2018, it accommodated 10.2 million. Insufficient for having such great attendance, the number would be more or less 27 000 people each day if the museum were open every day, which it is not, the reorganization took place in 2014 to 2016.
The Louvre Pyramid project brought in more visitors by reorganizing reception and entrance areas. With the addition of two very large information desks, better signage, soundproof pillars, redesigned ticketing facilities and many other changes and improvements, the access control at the Pyramid entrance had to be doubled.
Brand new glass was developed in order to build it
Pei was the one who insisted on having complete transparency with the Pyramid glass so that when people looked through it, there would be absolutely no perceptible change in the Palace. It was quite a challenge to find a clear glass as glass has that faint greenish or blueish tint to it. So Pei found the French manufacturing company Saint-Gobain in order to create a new glass specifically for the project.
Many months of extensive research went into developing this 21.5-millimetre extra-clear laminated glass, with its top-quality mechanical properties and high optical quality.
It took close to two years to get this just right, and the removal of the iron oxides required them to construct a certain furnace. The resulting “Diamond Glass” is perfectly laminated like your vehicle windshields, so if it breaks because of an impact, the plastic will retain the fragments. There are 19 375 square feet of glass in the Louvre Pyramid. Just in case any of the glass pieces ever break, Saint-Gobain made enough glass to build two of the pyramids, even though after over 30 years, the Pyramid has not needed any repairs.
A Seattle company developed a remote-controlled robot in 2002; the robot climbs the Pyramid to clean the glass.
Cleaning the glass is a monumental task
So the Louvre Pyramid has managed to escape the need for glass repair, maintenance is a completely different story. If you think cleaning your home windows is a difficult task, try cleaning windows with a 71-foot sloped structure? The regular carriage or boom system dropped from the top of the pyramid are useless, and it is impossible to use scaffolding, and you can forget about lift bucket systems.
Back in the day, they hired mountaineers in order to scale the Pyramid and clean the glass, but they needed an automated method. In the 1990s, they designed a robot in order to do the job. Thereafter, in 2002, a new model was developed by Seattle company Advanced Robotic Vehicles, it was a double breadboxes-sized robot. The robot was moved by remote control, they climbed the Pyramid on tracks and were secured to the glass by using suction cups.
However, there are certain tasks that are just impossible to automate, the water features near the Pyramid deposit a mist which is loaded with tartar on the glass, the glass needs to be descaled form time to time.
The Pyramid’s design aligns with French tradition
Despite the fact that it seems in contrast with the French Renaissance style of the museum, the Louvre Pyramid is still in keeping with certain French architectural traditions. According to W.Jude LeBlanc, who was a professor at Georgia Tech School of Architecture, Pei’s choice of the pyramid was not arbitrary. In fact, the country had a Neoclassical relationship with the Platonic solid, and while it was not a tetrahedron itself because of its square base, the Louvre Pyramid speaks to this relationship. Forward and innovative, Neoclassical architects of the 1700s, like Lequeu, Boullee, and Ledoux, used to experiment with pyramidical forms which were deployed as monuments, cenotaphs or other programs.
In fact, in 1989 when the pyramid first opened, The New York Times remarked that it “communicated” with the existing monuments of Paris and that the country’s architectural history was “ laden with references” to these types of architects, who relied on blunt geometric forms which include pyramids.
It is not the Louvre Pyramids only entrance
Even though the Louvre Pyramid was initially constructed to accommodate a visitor’s entrance, it is not the only way to get into the Pyramid, and sometimes it is not even the best way into the Pyramid. Considering the huge volumes of visitors who flock to the Louvre Pyramid, we would definitely recommend buying tickets online in advance. By buying an online ticket for a specific time slot, you can expect to enter the museum in less than an hour.
When arriving at the museum, even those who have bought advance tickets will be expected to stand in a queue, possibly right in front of the Pyramid. However, visitors who have a single or group ticket, can either through the Passage Richelieu, which is just off the Rue de Rivoli right across from the Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre metro station.
Different Types of Skylights
A skylight allows natural beauty and sunlight to enter a home. In addition to adding structural and aesthetic appeal, skylights offer the benefit of reducing reliance on electricity for heating and lighting purposes.
Basically, skylights are windows that are built into the roof of a house. There are many different types of skylight available today, and each one has its own purpose. One of the most common styles of skylights is fixed skylights, which is any kind that is not able to open. The primary purpose of a fixed skylight is to allow the natural light to come into the house for lighting or heating purposes. There are different types of fixed skylights and they come in an array of shapes and sizes, this includes round, flat, pyramid, polygon, and dome shapes. You can also find tubular fixed skylights, which are quite small. These skylights are perfect for small closets or bathrooms in which bigger skylights are not an option.
Some types of skylights, known as ventilating skylights, are made to open in order to allow the air to pass through.
These types of skylights are ideal for bathrooms and kitchens that have a high level of humidity. To make it more convenient, a ventilating skylight can be operated from the ground by using a remote control. There are some more advanced models that also include an automatic sensor, the sensor opens and closes at predetermined temperatures.
Skylight is generally comprised of either glass, synthetic or acrylic material known as Lexan. Each of these materials has different advantages and disadvantages. Glass skylights are usually more costly than the rest; however, they are scratch-resistant and more durable than any other skylights. Acrylic skylights are a bit more affordable, and they can be embedded with impact modifiers, which can make them more durable. Synthetic materials are easily cut into other shapes and sizes. They are also more affordable and can last longer.
There are many different options to choose from when trying to decide on a skylight. Homeowners should always consider not only the type of skylight and its shape but also its insulation and glazing factor. You are able to purchase skylights that have multiple panes of glass, the air that is tapped in between serves as an insulator in order to keep hot or cold air of the house. There are skylights that will work for just about any room in your house.
At Sundowner Skylights, we offer a wide variety of skylights and skylight installations. For more information, visit our website on www.sundownerskylight.com.