Louvre Palace

Louvre Palace, Paris - France, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
Construction year: Phase I: 1989, Phase II: 1993
Address: Musée du Louvre | PARIS | France
Latitude/Longitude: 48.86061, 2.33764

For eight centuries the Louvre Palace 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 of Louvre Palace 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.

Unlike Phase I, which involved the construction of a new underground building, Phase II required the creation of new space within an historic shell. Work included the cleaning and restoration of façades and exterior sculpture, conversion of three interior courtyards (previously staff parking lots) into skylit sculpture courts, and demolition of 12 acres of dingy government offices compressed into 6+ floors. With the exception of several historic rooms, the interior was totally rebuilt to accord with the three-level palace exterior. Sculpture was installed on the bottom level for maximum support, Decorative Arts in the middle, and at the top, painting galleries with innovative skylights designed for optimal viewing of the collection. A grand escalator court facilitates access to all levels, merging old and new and better equipping the Louvre for its preeminent role as a modern museum.

Beyond conversion of the Richelieu Wing, Phase II included the underground mixed-use complex known as the Carrousel du Louvre, the Pyramide Inversée that brings light into its center, the connected underground parking garage, and a series of related surface projects designed to actively reclaim the Louvre as a vital pedestrian precinct in the heart of Paris.

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