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Pei: 'I won't be around to see Louvre alterations completed'

World-renowned architect I M Pei has told the AJ of his excitement and sadness over the remodelling of his celebrated glass pyramid at the Louvre.

In a candid interview, the 89-year-old spoke of his regret that he will not be around to see the altered pyramid after the necessary changes have been completed.

'I won't be here to see it finished, so I hope it will be successful. I hope it will last,' he said.

'The problem is not the pyramid itself, but what's under it. There is now a security tent for checking bags, and there are huge queues of people waiting for tickets, which lead to a large amount of traffic.

'The pyramid is not functioning as expected,' he added. 'There is not enough public space - it's a scale problem.'

The reason for this, Pei says, is the pyramid was originally designed to house 4.5 million people, but the building now caters for 7.5 million, with that number likely to jump to 9 million by 2010.

'The challenge will be finding more space in the existing pyramid, and it will need an architectural solution. I will be the one who will find the right solution, which I will be presenting to Didier Selles [the Louvre's chief executive director] in September,' he said.

'There are many challenges with the remodelling. The Louvre is not like the British Museum or the Metropolitan Museum - the French ticketing system takes longer, so crowds begin to swell in the space.

'We have already been in discussion with the Louvre and they are making changes, but my job will be to make sure the changes are architecturally consistent with my original design.'

by Richard Vaughan

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