Examining the legacy of Pei's pyramid and Foster's Reichstag


Thirty years on, Ike Ijeh compares the influence of the seminal Louvre Pyramid and other radical restorations of its era on current practice

On a sunny spring morning in March 1989, French president François Mitterand opened IM Pei’s Pyramid extension to the Louvre Museum in Paris. Almost exactly 10 years later, German chancellor Gerhard Schröder reopened the historic Reichstag parliament building in Berlin. Prior to opening, both buildings endured their fair share of controversy. The Louvre Pyramid had been lambasted for desecrating the renaissance architecture of the Louvre’s majestic central courtyard and for blurring the lines between cultural refinement and perceived political megalomania. The later Reichstag project was forced to navigate enormous political and historic sensitivities and only had its famous dome reinstated (originally omitted from Norman Foster’s plans) at the insistence of the German government. 

And yet today both buildings stand as timeless examples of wildly successful refurbishment projects that have not only redefined the cultural and architectural image of their respective host buildings but have become emblematic of a new generation of refurbishment architecture where historic restoration goes hand in hand with the addition of bold contemporary interventions.

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