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Pyramid of the Grand Louvre and monumental spiral staircase of the Louvre Museum

Paris, France


I.M. Pei Architect and L’Établissement public du Grand Louvre

Type of use


Year of construction


Work type

New building

The Louvre Pyramid is now one of the most prestigious monuments in the world. The mandate of the structural engineer, succinctly expressed by the architect I.M. Pei, was to build a structure that was as transparent as technology would allow. The resulting symbiosis created between the architect, the structural engineer and the other professionals was undoubtedly the factor behind the unanimous success of this project. The structural design of the main pyramid is an outstanding achievement in structural engineering. For example, the structure’s high transparency was made possible by minimizing the diameters of the truss components. The tensile members are made of high strength material in very thin sections, while the compressed elements, which are governed by buckling, are limited in terms of the slenderness of their profile. For the design engineer, the task was therefore to put as many of the structure’s elements as possible under permanent tension. The originality of the structural design lies mainly in the use of a tensioned truss system to compensate for the effects of wind suction on certain surfaces of the pyramid. A system of pre-stressed cables allowed the application of this principle to all of the lower chords as well as to the diagonals arranged in a cross.

The metal structure supporting the glass cladding is made of steel and aluminum and weighs 200 tonnes. It is covered with 603 glass lozenges and 70 glass triangles. It was the first major construction to use laminated glass.

Beneath this glass pyramid is a monumental staircase composed of a helical structure made of welded steel plates, the only supports of which are the first and last steps. At the heart of this technical feat, which connects the ‘’Cour Napoléon’’ and the reception area of the Grand Louvre, is a lifting platform for people with reduced mobility.