Monday, April 23, 2007

The Grand Axis of Paris, 20 April 2007

When I.M. Pei designed he glass pyramid at the center of the Louvre's main courtyard, he was disturbed by the fact that the building itself, and therefore his new structure, were not on the same axis as the Carrousel Arch, the Obelisk in Place de la Concorde, and the Arc de Triomphe. When the axis was first designed, the Tuileries Palace stood as the terminal point, between Concorde and the Louvre, but it was burned to the ground during the Commune in 1871. So Pei had an equestrian statue of Louis XIV from Versailles recast, and placed it as a grace note to mark the end. If you stand at the base, you have an uninterrupted view all the way to Francois Mitterrand's Grande Arche de la Defense, built in the 1980s. It's one of my favorite places in Paris and, oddly, though it is in plain sight very few people seem to notice.
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