Final outer piece of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s jigsaw canopy put in place

The underside of the dome’s cladding may still be a work in progress but for the first time anybody lucky enough to fly over the Louvre Abu Dhabi will now see the museum’s canopy in its entirety.

The last piece of the outer roof is put into place at the Louvre Abu Dhabi construction site on Saadiyat Island. Christopher Pike / The National
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Fly over the Louvre Abu Dhabi today and you would think the job was complete, after the final piece of cladding was lowered into place on the upper surface of the mighty roof.
So it was for good reason that workers and designers – even the museum's renowned architect Jean Nouvel – were there to cheer as the final piece was fitted.
It is a jigsaw puzzle that has taken more than 30 million man hours and 424 days to complete, and was finished with a mix of expert crane driving, complex choreography, brute strength and heavy engineering.
The underside of the dome's cladding may still be a work in progress but among the many milestones so far, this was big.
Accompanying Nouvel at the ceremony were Ali Al Mansouri and Sufian Al Marzooqi, the chairman and the chief executive of the Tourism Development and Investment Company, the project's developer.
The three rode in the cradle of a crane suspended over the stainless steel and aluminium roof.
Below, a small crowd from the museum's design, construction and development teams gathered for a moment of celebration, posing for photos as the final piece was lowered into place.
At 49 square metres and weighing 415 kilograms, the "star" was one of 7,850 to form the eight layers that generate Nouvel's much-vaunted Rain of Light.
Created by nothing more than the movement of the Sun and its passage through the eight layers of the complex canopy, the Rain of Light has already started to bathe the museum's precincts in a constantly shifting display of kaleidoscopic, reflected light.
It adds a degree of poetry to the practical business of construction still taking place beneath the dome.
Now that 4,481 stars have been fixed to the upper surfaces of the Louvre Abu Dhabi's roof, attention will turn to the remaining four layers of cladding that are yet to be finished on its underside.
When the cladding is complete it will add an extra 2,000 tonnes to the structural steel core of the roof that was lowered into its final resting place in December last year.
Measuring 565.5 metres in circumference and composed of 400,000 individual elements, Louvre Abu Dhabi's roof sits on top of four towers that have been carefully concealed inside the museum buildings, creating the illusion that the whole 7,000-tonne structure is hovering in mid-air.