The American-Chinese architect I. M. Pei is dead. His most important work, the glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre in Paris is a building that the whole world knows. Pei was 102 years old. He was one of the most important architects of classical modernism.
Abstract shapes and sharp, geometric designs made the Chinese-born architect Ieoh Ming Pei a star in the West. Among other things, the Pritzker Prize winner became famous with the design of the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris. His handling of simple geometric shapes and the play with the light shaped his work.
In many buildings of the Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei – like the entrance pyramid of the Paris Louvre – put something enchanted. Pei stands for an art that has rarely existed in the 20th century. The buildings of I. M. Pei captivate with their elegance, expansive geometrical shapes and generous areas. Significant buildings include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the steel and glass tower of the Bank of China in Hong Kong, and the Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing.
The jury for the Pritzker Prize, which was awarded to Pei in 1983, cited his incredible scope as one of the many reasons for awarding him the profession’s top honor.
“I.M. Pei has refused to limit himself to a narrow range of architectural problems,” the announcement reads. “His work over the past forty years includes not only palaces of industry, government and culture, but also some of the best moderate and low-income housing. Through his skill he has elevated the use of materials to an art.”
Pei was born in Guangzhou (Canton) in southern China in 1917 and grew up in Hong Kong and Shanghai. At the age of 17 he moved to the USA. He learned the art of architecture from 1935 at the University of Pennsylvania before graduating in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Cambridge and from 1946 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Among his lecturers were, the Bauhaus architects Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius. With his wife Eileen Loo, whom he already knew from college, he had three sons and a daughter.