In Memoriam – “I understand that time has changed, we have evolved, but I don’t want to forget the beginning. A lasting architecture has to have roots.” Said once I M Pei, the versatile, globe-trotting architect who created bold and striking architectures with a distinct pragmatic and modernist approach.
The son of a prominent banker in China, the young Ieoh Ming Pei moved to the US in 1935 to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. After teaching and working for the US government, he started work for a New York developer in 1948 and opened his own firm in 1955. In 1983, he won the Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture.
The Chinese-born architect was the mastermind behind the bold Louvre pyramid in Paris. The 70-foot-high glass pyramid appalled preservationists, but the public eventually warmed to it. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, a combination of geometric forms and cantilevered spaces that are anchored by a 162-foot tower rising above the shores of Lake Erie.
Among his most iconic creations the trapezoidal addition to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the chiselled towers of the National Center of Atmospheric Research that blend in with the reddish mountains in Boulder, Colorado.
Other major works include the landmark 72-storey Bank of China tower in Hong Kong, John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, Athens’ Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar’s capital Doha.