Famed architect I. M. Pei dies at 102

I.M. Pei, renowned architect who left his mark on Denver, dies at 102

I.M. Pei, renowned architect who left his mark on Denver, dies at 102

The Bank of China building in Hong Kong.

Upon starting his own firm, Pei designed numerous structures in NY including the National Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport and the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. Pei designed the landmark glass and metal pyramid and three smaller pyramids in the museum's main courtyard.

I had the good fortune of meeting Pei, though only once, when he was a sprightly 95-year-old. "I couldn't walk the streets of Paris without people walking looking at me and saying: There you go again".

Two decades passed and, in 2009, NPR's Susan Stamberg paid a visit to the pyramid. They were composed of stone, steel and glass and, as with the Louvre, he often worked glass pyramids into his projects. But at the same time, Pei was an architect of multiple dimensions.

Pei didn't like labels.

He considers Mr Pei his mentor and the "godfather of modern architecture". Back in 1970, he defined his approach in an interview for a documentary on one of his buildings - the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "We have to eliminate the inessential".

"He's a true modernist and his architectural expression has always been practical, simple and clean geometry".

"Traditional Islamic architecture meets the 21st century", is the museum's description of the building which incorporates geometric patterns and is lit by reflected light entering from above.

"An element that's nearly always consistent in his architecture is a light-filled atrium space to be loved by its occupants".

Ieoh Ming Pei was born April 26, 1917, in Canton, China, the son of a banker. Pei biographer Carter Wiseman says that the natural worlddeeply influenced Pei.

He did not plan to stay in the USA when he arrived from China to study in 1935. "He was interested in the sculptural properties of rocks". He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1954.

Pei's privileged upbringing helped him navigate the alpha male world of architecture and real estate.

Pei didn't get everything right.

Problems with the elaborate network of rods and spherical nodes that roof the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NY for a time brought waves of angry publicity as construction ground to a halt.

"This one, however, carries forward the local tradition to a scale of sophistication and grandeur comparable in its effect to the familiar shopping galleries of Italy with their high-class canopies or even to London's former Crystal Palace".

Among his most well-known projects were the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. He used the $100,000 prize money to offer scholarships for Chinese students to study architecture in the US. Two of his last major projects, the Museum of Islamic Art, located on an artificial island just off the waterfront in Doha, Qatar, and the Macau Science Center, in China, opened in 2008 and 2009.

"He was also meticulous about how to put a building together as he believed architecture must stand the test of time".

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