August 15, 2015
The new Fondation Louis Vuitton museum inaugurated in Paris in October 2014, was born from a spontaneous sketch by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, and a digital model created by the most advanced 3D software. The building clearly reflects Gehry’s disdain for the straight line. The result is a spectacular space with twelve monumental billowing glass sails supported by an entanglement of steel columns, wooden beams, transoms, braces and tension rods. All these elements are connected and draw upon the “iceberg”, a hard-shell structure containing the museum’s enclosed spaces.
An outer structure comprises an intricate network of long-span laminated larch wood beams connected to carbon steel trusses. They constitute the solid suspension frame of the glass sails. From 3 to 35m long and in various
curvatures, all these elements give the impression of gently swirling underneath the sails. A total of 540 duplex stainless steel inserts ensure firm connection between the wooden beams. In addition, 430 unique, geometrically complex nodes link all wooden and metal elements. Made from carbon steel/duplex stainless steel 100mm thick hybrid plates, they give the structure stability, allowing it to flex and maintain its integrity, while reinforcing the sensation of sails and movement.
A second freestanding structure includes the twelve curved glass sails wrapped around and above the iceberg, supported by a duplexstainless steel grid. The engineers selected 2205 duplex stainless steel (EN 1.4462, UNS S31803), with 4.5 to 6.5% nickel, for all inserts and nodes, the grid as well as for the gutters, braces, tension rods, thousands of bolts and hundreds of securing fasteners. It offers a yield strength twice that of a standard Type 316L (S31603), yet with 30% less weight. 1,500 tons of high strength duplex stainless steel support the majestic glass sails. In total the building structure contains 15,000 tons of steel—twice as much as in the Eiffel Tower.