Published: Mon, May 20, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Legendary Chinese-born United States architect I.M. Pei dies at age 102

Legendary Chinese-born United States architect I.M. Pei dies at age 102

I.M. Pei, whose modern designs and high-profile projects made him one of the best-known and most prolific architects of the 20th century, has died. In 1955, he formed his own firm in NY, the partnership of I.M. Pei & Associates-which underwent several name changes before it became Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in 1989-and in 1968, it received the Architectural Firm Award of the American Institute of Architects. Pei founded his own firm, I.M. Pei and Associates (later Pei, Cobb and Freed), in 1955 with Cobb and Eason Leonard. A cause was not disclosed.

The Chinese-American designer endured a roasting from critics before the giant glass structure opened in 1989, with up to 90 percent of Parisians said to be against the project at one point.

Over the course of a long global career, he designed notable buildings that included museums, cultural and research centers, civic buildings, and office towers.

Although he worked mostly in the United States, Pei will always be remembered for a European project: his redevelopment of the Louvre Museum in Paris in the 1980s.

Looking back at his career to The Guardian a decade ago, Pei noted that architecture is an art form that takes time.

FILE - This Aug. 19, 2009, file photo shows the entrance of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, designed by architect I.M. Pei, in Boston. He topped it off with a transparent tent-like structure, which was "open - like the music", he said.

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He carried on working well into old age, creating one of his most famous masterpieces - the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar - in his 80s.

On the most important, the Suzhou Museum in Suzhou, China, he collaborated with his architect sons, Chien Chung and Li Chung.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sits on the edge of the North Coast Harbor in downtown Cleveland in 1995.

The museum's president, Jean-Luc Martinez, expressed sadness at the passing of Ieoh Ming Pei. He later said, "I did not know what architecture really was in China. In our architectural and cultural worlds at the time, he was a pioneer". However, World War II and the revolution in China prevented him from coming back. 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. "It was bad", he later said. His son T'ing Chung Pei MCP '67, an urban planner, died in 2003.

The project was the result of a recommendation made by Vincent Ponte, a NY city planner who visited Australia in late 1969 and suggested that "ANZ, AMP Society and Mainline Corporation get together to use their total of three and a third acres [approximately 13,500 square metres] to develop a joint venture", reported the Sydney Morning Herald on 20 June, 1971. Among the firm's accomplishments are the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

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