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I.M. Pei: Master of Modern Architecture

Ieoh Ming Pei, better known as I.M. Pei, has left an indelible mark on the world of architecture. Born in Guangzhou, China in 1917, Pei moved to the United States in 1935 for his studies. After earning his Bachelor’s degree from MIT and a Master’s from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, he began a career that would span over six decades and earn him a Pritzker Prize, often considered the Nobel Prize of architecture.

Pei’s architectural philosophy melded modern aesthetics with the essence of traditional architectural principles. His designs were renowned for their geometric forms and innovative use of space. Influenced by his Asian roots and Western education, his work often brought together the best of both worlds, resulting in a unique architectural language.

Arguably, one of Pei’s most iconic projects is the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, France. This grand glass and metal pyramid, completed in 1989, serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. Initially met with controversy, it quickly became a Parisian landmark, embodying Pei’s ability to harmoniously blend modern elements with historical context.

In the United States, Pei’s oeuvre includes the impressive East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., a structure designed with sharp angles that contrast the classical architecture of the West Building. Another significant project is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, a monument to the 35th president that combines personal legacy with grand public spaces.

I.M. Pei’s mastery also extends to the commercial realm. The Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, with its asymmetrical form and striking geometric design, not only transformed the city’s skyline but also revolutionized high-rise construction with its innovative structural system.

I.M. Pei’s legacy is a testament to his timeless architectural vision. His designs, characterized by clean lines, striking geometric forms, and a seamless blend of old and new, continue to inspire and influence architects globally. From museums to commercial towers, Pei’s architectural marvels beautifully encapsulate his multicultural approach and enduring dedication to the craft of building.

He passed away at the age of 102 in Manhattan, NY, May 16, 2019 but his legacy lives on in his work. 

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