Understanding the Glass Pyramid at the Louvre

The Louvre pyramid is the museum‘s main entrance, intended to provide more space for visitors to descend into the lobby below. The Louvre pyramid was designed by Ieoh Ming Pei, a Chinese-American architect. Nicolet Chartrand Knoll Ltd. of Montreal was in charge of design consulting, and Rice Francis Ritchie of France was in charge of construction.

The glass pyramid was built as part of the ‘Grand Louvre’ project, which was commissioned by the President of France in 1984. The project’s main goal was to extend and modernize the Louvre Museum.

The Louvre Pyramid’s construction

The Louvre Pyramid's construction

The first phase of the Grand Louvre project included the construction of the Louvre Pyramid and three pyramidions. The building was finished in late 1987. On October 14, 1988, the open space surrounding the pyramid was renamed Cour Napoléon and opened to the public.

The pyramid, as well as the underground complex and the large lobby beneath it known as Hall Napoléon, were inaugurated on March 29, 1989, and opened to the public on April 1, 1989.

Louvre Glass Pyramid Design

The glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris is a complex blend of classic and modern design. It is the focal point of the Louvre Museum’s courtyard. The foyer unites the museum’s three pavilions, Denon, Richelieu, and Sully, and is located just beneath the pyramid.

According to records, the primary pyramid is made up of 603 rhombus-shaped glass segments, 70 triangular glass segments, and 95 tons of steel and 105 tons of aluminum in metal poles. There are 171 windows on three sides and 160 panes on the fourth side, which contains the pyramid’s entrance. The pyramid stands approximately 21.6 meters tall and has a base area of 1,000 square meters.

The glass pyramid, which was inspired by the Giza Pyramid, was created to add a contemporary twist to the surroundings while also serving as a focal point. The modern construction, on the other hand, is meant to enhance rather than detract from the museum’s traditional nature.

Details of Structure

Details of Structure

The Louvre pyramid’s framework was built using a process known as “structural glazing.” Glass segments are anchored on a metal mesh to create massive installations using this approach. This is also seen in home furnishings and showrooms on a smaller scale. The Louvre glass pyramid’s square base has 112 foot sides and an 11,000 square foot base area. ft. The pyramid’s pinnacle rises 71 feet above the base’s center.

The external surface of the glass is totally exposed in structural glazing, and it is only linked to the underlying framework via sealants. In the case of the Louvre pyramid, a fluorine carbon lacquer coating was used. This approach not only provides a unique and lovely outside, but it also enables more natural light into the structure.

This effect, however, is not feasible with all types of spectacles. The creators of the Louvre pyramid commissioned Saint Gobain to produce a special sort of extra-clear glass known as Diamant glass.

Diamant glass

Diamant glass

Pei insisted on complete transparency in the Pyramid glass so that there would be no discernible alteration to the Palace when visitors peered through it. Because glass has a slight bluish or greenish tint, finding a clear glass was difficult. As a result, he solicited the help of Saint-Gobain, a French glass manufacturer, to design a new glass specifically for the project.

In an email, Patricia Marie, director of communications for Saint-Gobain, says, “Months of painstaking study went into the development of this 21.5-millimeter [0.8 inch] extra-clear laminated glass, with its remarkable mechanical properties and high optical quality.” “Iron oxides have been removed from this glass in particular to prevent any green reflection.”

It took nearly two years to get it perfect, and the company had to build a special furnace to remove the iron oxides. The resulting “Diamond Glass” is laminated, much like automotive windshields, so that if it breaks due to an impact, the shards are retained by the plastic. According to Marie, the pyramid has 19,375 square feet (1,800 square meters) of glass — 675 “lozenges” (the rhombus-shaped glass segments we identify with the Pyramid) and 118 triangles. These are supported by a structure made up of 6,000 metal bars, bringing the Pyramid’s total weight to 200 tons (180 metric tons). Saint-Gobain made enough glass to make two pyramids in case any break, yet after more than 30 years, no repairs have been required.”

Diamant glass has a lower iron content than regular glass, which accounts for its great transparency. The usual greenish color of glass is caused by iron oxide, which is reduced to the greatest extent in Diamant glass.

The advantages of the Diamant glass are as follows:

Visual Comfort:

The extra clear glass reduces sunlight absorption, allowing more daylight to filter through. The occupants will have better vision as a result of this.


Clear and plentiful daylight increases illumination and offers an aesthetic appearance to huge multi-layer glass constructions.


During the day, no artificial light is necessary, reducing electricity use to some amount.


The Louvre glass pyramid’s glass panels have never fractured or cracked. Because of this durability, replacement costs are cheap.

The glass pyramid was originally questioned

The glass pyramid was originally questioned

Nowadays, the distinctive glass pyramid in the Louvre’s central courtyard is seen as a rather permanent fixture in the Parisian landscape. But, like with the Eiffel Tower and the adjoining Colonnes de Buren, many people were initially opposed to the idea of a glass edifice in contrast to the Louvre’s antique palace. Fortunately for us, the pyramid was approved, and it remains one of the best sites in the city to photograph the sunset to this day.

Three smaller pyramids flank the main pyramid. They’ve been placed so that light shafts can be created for access to the museum’s collections.

The story of the Pyramid has not been without its bumps, with various design aspects and even the architect’s choice causing controversy among Parisians. Despite the controversy surrounding it, the Louvre Pyramid has become an iconic landmark that represents the museum itself!