Pei, the versatile, globe-trotting architect who revived the Louvre with a giant glass pyramid and captured the spirit of rebellion at the multi-shaped Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has died at age 102, a spokesman confirmed Thursday, May 16, 2019.
You might not know that his work is also scattered across the MIT campus; one of the buildings he designed is the 21-story Green Building, which is Cambridge's tallest structure.
The stunning concrete and glass structure features huge mirrored pyramids and a 50-foot (15-meter) waterfall.
He brought to his work the notion that good architecture served a higher civic objective. "In our architectural and cultural worlds at the time, he was a pioneer".
"Having come from China, where he was exposed to garden architecture, he had a very different concept of time", Wiseman explains.
Nevertheless, war and upheaval got in the way.
Upon starting his own firm, Pei designed numerous structures in NY including the National Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport and the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University.
Famously charming, with dapper style and a beaming smile, Pei easily straddled, and found clients in, the worlds of both culture and commerce. Click through the gallery to see his life and work in pictures. He was able to schmooze with the powerful, which led to projects like the apartments on Manhattan's Eastside called the Kips Bay Towers, the Kennedy Library in Boston, and the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
"It's an fantastic project that really looks like a gateway into the city", he said.
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He did so, often, by forging his own path.
Pei taught at Harvard briefly and planned to return to China, when William Zeckendorf recruited him to join his architectural firm Webb and Knapp in 1948.
Along with a formidable assortment of colleagues and collaborators, he also pioneered new construction techniques, especially in concrete.
French president Francois Mitterrand was so impressed that he had Pei hired to build a glass pyramid into the courtyard of the Louvre, the world's most visited museum. He said there's no such thing as modern, post-modern, or deconstructivist architecture.
Pei officially retired in 1990.
Concerned about the effect such a building would have on the capital's historic character, Pei refused.
Born in China in 1917, banker's son Ieoh Ming Pei came to the U.S. at 17 to study architecture, receiving an undergraduate degree in the field from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940 and then receiving a master's degree in architecture at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design in 1946. "His tact and patience have enabled him to draw together peoples of disparate interests and disciplines to create a harmonious environment".
"I would say the first year and a half was really hell", the architect said in a PBS documentary. His name, I.M. stands for Ieoh Ming, which roughly means "to make an indelible mark". The interview suffered as a result, but, true to Pei's reputation, it was a pleasure nonetheless.
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