The Louis Vuitton Foundation is unfurling in the Bois de Boulogne
Could it be a glass and metal chrysalis ready to take off as soon as it becomes a butterfly? A futuristic vessel complete with sails, about to float on the nearby lake? The Louis Vuitton creative foundation building, commissioned by Bernard Arnault, chairman of the LVMH luxury group, to house his private collection of art works, is unfurling in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, situated towards the back of the Jardin d’Acclimatation. The site is well advanced, delivery being scheduled for September 2013, and inauguration for spring 2014.
It was back in May 2009 that Eiffage Construction Métallique was awarded the contract to build all 12 glass sections that wrap around and overhang the building’s main steel and concrete structure which was built by Vinci – the contractor being the Foundation.
The building, designed by the American-Canadian architect Frank Gehry, has a total glass surface area of 13,500 m² - more than the building’s actual floor area of 8,000 m² -, which involves the production and installation of 3,430 curved glass panels, each one different from the next !
The construction of such a complex glass surface on this scale is unprecedented. 150,000 hours of design work had to be carried out and an experimental technical consultation was obtained from the “Centre scientifique et technique du bâtiment” in order to test feasibility and resistance; there are also several technical consultants working on the project including Setec, RFR and Tess.
Eiffage Construction Métallique hired specialist designers from the automotive sector who were familiar with the Frank Gehry 3D design software, “Digital Projet", to help with this project. The curved glass panels, which are 1.5m by 3m, were manufactured at the Italian Sunglass factory. Since it wasn’t possible to create 3,430 different moulds due to the project’s cost and time constraints, the panels were shaped in furnaces in order to achieve shapes that were as close as possible to the original design.
In order to fix the panels to the base structure, a framework was produced at the Eiffage Construction Métallique factory at Maizières-lès-Metz (Moselle). This was made using 2,000 tons of carbon steel, 1,500 tons of high strength Duplex stainless steel, 800 m3 of wood beams, 4.5 km of rails and 10 km of arched columns. Over 20,000 design hours were required to properly sequence the various construction phases.