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9 hectares

Index to Projects in France

Paris, France    

Gross Floor Area

Etablissement Public du Grand Louvre

Time Frame
Planning: 9/83–
   Spring 1984

Construction: 2/85
Underground Building
Completed: 3/89

Grand Louvre — Phase I

Paris, France
Completed 1989
Phase II completed 1993


Lead Designers:


I. M. Pei
Leonard Jacobson
Yann Weymouth
C.C. Pei 


Expansion, modernization and reorganization of the Louvre; new operational infrastructure for the entire museum

Click on image to enlarge

For eight centuries the Louvre has stood as a unique national monument, central to the people and spirit of France. In 1983, President François Mitterrand requested that it be modernized, expanded and better integrated with the city — all without compromising the integrity of the historic building. The challenge was magnified by the fact that the Louvre was originally constructed, and used for most of its life, as a royal palace; it was fundamentally ill-suited to serve as a museum.

The two-phase solution involved the reorganization of the long linear building into a compact U-shaped museum around a focal courtyard. A centrally located glass pyramid forms the new main entrance and provides direct access to galleries in each of the museum's three wings. Critically, the pyramid also serves as a skylight for a very large expansion building constructed under the courtyard to provide all the public amenities and technical support required in a modern museum.

Corollary objectives for improved urban integration led to the transformation of surface parking into a three-hectare fountain plaza. Closed passages through the building were opened as public rights of way, underground services and parking relieved congestion, and a 55,000m2 mixed-use complex, supplementary but independent of the museum, was designed to help finance the project and reinvigorate the heart of Paris. The half-mile-long Louvre, previously an obstacle to circulation, thus became a vital gathering place and bridge to the surrounding city.


Major Components

2.9-hectare public plaza with fountains, 21.6m-high pyramidal main entrance, 5m-high pyramidal skylights (3) over underground links to museum wings; 61,690m2 Hall Napoleon with 290m2 belvedere; 20,800m2 mezzanine; 24,900m2 main reception; 420-seat auditorium; 16,000m2 technical level; Public Spaces (17,640m2 total): 5,800m2 reception / circulation; 3,900m2 research; 3,500m2 cafes/restaurants; 2,000m2 museum shop; 1,400m2 temporary exhibition; 1,000m2 Louvre History exhibition; 1,200m2 support; 1,000m2 Young People's Louvre; 760m 2 group reception; 600m2 commercial boutiques; Technical Spaces & Support (8,800m2 total) including 3,000m2 art reserves; 2,400m2 workshops / related facilities; 925m 2 circulation; 365m2 staff workshops / lounges; 430m2 workshop support; 425m2 security; 1,200m2 guards' facilities; 100m2 medical services




Prix Spécial Grands Projets Parisiens:
Le Moniteur L'Equerre d'Argent



L'Association des Ingénieurs:
Conseils du Canada: Prix d'Excellence



American Concrete Institute, Central New York Chapter:
Grand Award



European Convention for Constructional Steelwork:
Design Award



Le Syndicat de la Construction Métallique de France:
Prix Special



New York Association of Consulting Engineers: Engineering Excellence Competition:
First Prize, Structural — Buildings Category


I. M. Pei & Partners services

Master Planning; Architectural Design; Interior Design of Public spaces and connections to existing building; coordination with associate architect on construction documents and construction administration


Associate Architects, Paris

Michel Macary


Architectes en Chef du Louvre

Georges Duval, Guy Nicot


Pyramid Structure / Design Consultant

Nicolet Chartrand Knoll, Ltd.


Pyramid Structure / Construction Phase

Rice Francis Ritchie



Travers Associates, Clifton, NJ



Photo credits

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