IM Pei, Modernist Architect of Cultural Landmarks, Dies

I.M. Pei, renowned architect who left his mark on Denver, dies at 102

I.M. Pei, architect who designed Cleveland’s Rock Hall, dies at 102

Pei was the 1983 recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, with judges saying he had "given this century some of its most attractive interior spaces and exterior forms". And yet, even after initial skepticism and controversy, people always ended up admiring or worshiping Pei's designs.

Tributes from local architects and industry insiders have poured in for the late I.M. Pei, the world-renowned Chinese-born American architect who died on Thursday (May 16).

Pei has received numerous awards for his work, among them the the Gold Medal for Architecture of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1979; the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1983; the first Praemium Imperiale for Architecture in 1989; and the Medal of Freedom in 1992, which was presented to him by President George H.W. Bush.

Aric Chen is curator-at-large at M+, a new museum of visual culture under construction in Hong Kong, and professor of practice at Tongji University's College of Design & Innovation in Shanghai.

He considers Mr Pei his mentor and the "godfather of modern architecture". After teaching and working for the U.S. government, he went to work for a NY developer in 1948 and started his own firm in 1955.

The Landau Building (a.k.a. "Building 66") is another structure Pei designed on his alma mater's campus.

Pei also designed the Mile High Center, otherwise known as 1700 Broadway. He went on to build his own firm, I. M. Pei & Associates, which he set up in 1955.

Other creations included the trapezoidal addition to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, to the chiselled towers of the National Center of Atmospheric Research that blend in with the reddish mountains in Boulder, Colorado. The interlocking triangles, squares, and circles of the controversial John F. Kennedy Library would become a Pei signature.

The building was erected the same year that Pei officially retired, though he continued to work on projects.

A flurry of lawsuits followed among the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co., the glass manufacturer, and Pei's firm. The claims were settled, but the building opened in 1976 four years late and nearly double the original cost estimate.

Interior of the "Great Space" at Collins Place by Pei and Partners and Bates Smart and McCutcheon. He said that when you ask visitors why they are at the Louvre, they generally give three answers: for the Mona Lisa, for the Venus de Milo and for the Pyramid.

Before its completion, the pyramid was widely derided as an insult to French history.

At one point, up to 90 percent of Parisians opposed the project.

"By the end of the 1980s, there was probably no firm capable of producing large-scale work with such refinement and excellence of detail", Goldberger wrote. He later said, "I did not know what architecture really was in China".

His talents seemed best-suited to large-scale buildings of civic significance.

Ieoh Ming Pei was born April 26, 1917, in Canton, China, the son of a banker. The library ended up taking almost 15 years to complete. Besides sons Chien Chung Pei and Li Chung Pei, he is survived by a daughter, Liane.

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