06
Jan
10

I.M. Pei

Ieoh Ming Pei (貝聿銘) (born April 26, 1917), commonly known by his initials I. M. Pei, is a Chinese architect. Although he refuses to apply labels to his own work, he is considered a master of modern architecture. Born in Guangzhou and raised in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Pei drew artistic inspiration at an early age from the gardens at Suzhou. He was fascinated by movies from the United States, especially those of Buster Keaton and Bing Crosby, and taught himself English by reading the Bible and novels by Charles Dickens.

In 1935, Pei moved to the United States and enrolled in the architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania, but quickly transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was unhappy with the focus on Beaux-Arts architecture, and spent his free time researching the emerging masters of modern architecture, especially Le Corbusier. After graduating, he joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and became friends with the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. In 1942, he married Eileen Loo, who had introduced him to the GSD community. They have been married for over fifty years, and have four children (two of whom also became architects).

Pei spent ten years working with New York real estate magnate William Zeckendorf before establishing his own independent design firm. Originally called I. M. Pei & Associates, the firm evolved over many years to its current incarnation as Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Among the early projects on which Pei took the lead were the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC and the Green Building at MIT. He created his first widely recognized signature building when he designed the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado. The recognition from this project led to his selection for the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts. He went on to design Dallas City Hall and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.

He returned to China for the first time in 1974, and agreed to design a hotel at Fragrant Hills. The project became something of a disaster for Pei, but he returned to East Asia again fifteen years later to design a skyscraper in Hong Kong for the Bank of China. In the early 1980s, Pei was the focus of a huge controversy when he designed a glass-and-steel pyramid for the Louvre museum in Paris. Critical and public opinion eventually turned in Pei’s favor, but the experience was difficult for the architects and project coordinators. Pei later returned to the world of the arts by designing the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, the Miho Museum in Japan, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar.

Pei has won a wide variety of prizes and awards in the field of architecture, including the AIA Gold Medal in 1979, the first Praemium Imperiale for Architecture in 1989, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2003. In 1983 he won the Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture. In its citation, the jury wrote: “Ieoh Ming Pei has given this century some of its most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms…. His versatility and skill in the use of materials approach the level of poetry.”

referenced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I._M._Pei

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