As Langdon is driven from his hotel to the Louvre at the beginning of The Da Vinci Code, he notices La Pyramide. This is the large pyramid in Cour Napolean, the courtyard in front of the Louvre Museum. Later in the book specific references are made to the other two pyramids, under the ground nearby.
“The new entrance to the Paris Louvre had become almost as famous as the museum itself. The controversial, neomodern glass pyramid designed by Chinese-born American architect I.M. Pei still evoked scorn from traditionalists who felt it destroyed the dignity of the Renaissance courtyard.”
The Pyramid can be visited online as one of the virtual tours offered at the Louvre website. The tours gives viewers the opportunity to pan around the Cour de Napoleon, with a view of La Pyramide at night. See the Visite Virtuelle. Click on the magnifying glass to open an interactive quicktime-powered panagraphic scope.
Ieoh Ming Pei the architect was born in Suzhou, in 1917. He is still alive, continuing with the firm he co-founded, Pei Cobb Freed and Partners. This company has a few web pages dedicated to the Louvre project, with details on the planning and construction that led to the rejuvenation of the museum and its courtyards. Planning started in September 1983. Archaeological excavation started in spring 1984. Construction started in February 1985 and finished in March 1989.
Pei’s site gives us some of the background:
“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.”
Other firms involved in the construction of the Paris Pyramid include Nicolet Chartrand Knoll Ltd, (Pyramid Structure / Design Consultants), and Ian Ritchie Architects, Francis Design, Rice Francis Ritchie (Pyramid Structure / Construction Phase).
GreatBuildings.com provide a page of photographs and links to books on the pyramid project.