Louvre Pyramid

  • Category
    Miscellaneous
  • Published
    7th Jun, 2019
  • IM Pei, whose modern designs and high-profile projects made him one of the best-known and most prolific architects of the 20th century, died at the age of 102.
  • He was the focus of controversy when he designed a glass-and-steel Louvre Pyramid in Paris in 1980s.

Context

  • IM Pei, whose modern designs and high-profile projects made him one of the best-known and most prolific architects of the 20th century, died at the age of 102.
  • He was the focus of controversy when he designed a glass-and-steel Louvre Pyramid in Paris in 1980s.

About

Louvre Pyramid:

  • It is a large glass and steel pyramid which was designed by I. M. Pei. It is surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard of the Louvre Palace in Paris.
  • This large pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. It was completed in 1989 and has become a landmark of Paris.
  • 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 ascend into the main Louvre buildings.

What was the controversy?

  • The construction of the pyramid triggered many years of strong and lively aesthetic and political debate. The criticisms were:
    • the modernist style of the edifice was inconsistent with the classic French Renaissance style and history of the Louvre;
    • the pyramid is an unsuitable symbol of death from ancient Egypt;
    • the project was an immodest, pretentious, megalomaniacal folly imposed by then-President François Mitterrand; and

Who was IM Pei?

  • Ieoh Ming Pei was a Chinese-American architect.
  • He was born in Guangzhou in 1917. He left his homeland in 1935, moving to the US and studying architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.
  • After teaching and working for the US government, he went to work for a New York developer in 1948 and started his own firm in 1955.

His Legacy

  • His first major recognition came with the Mesa Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado in 1967. This led to his selection as chief architect for the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts. He went on to design Dallas City Hall and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.
  • He returned to China for the first time in 1975 to design a hotel at Fragrant Hills, and designed Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, a skyscraper in Hong Kong for the Bank of China.
  • He later returned to the world of the arts by designing the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, the Miho Museum in Japan, MIHO Institute of Aesthetics, the Suzhou Museum in Suzhou, Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, and the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art, in Luxembourg.
  • Pei won AIA Gold Medal in 1979, the first Praemium Imperiale for Architecture in 1989, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2003, Pritzker Prize (referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture) in 1983.
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