Ieoh Ming (I.M.) Pei, the highly acclaimed Chinese architect, whose modern designs and architecture projects made him one of the well-known and most prolific architects of the 20th century, has died at the age 102 on Thursday, at his home in Manhattan, New York.
I.M. Pei, fifth architect to receive Pritzker Architecture Prize, was best known for designing Louvre Pyramid, the glass pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre Museum, in Paris, and the East Building of the American National Gallery of Art, in Washington DC. Pei, who was born in China and moved to the United States in the 1930s, was hired by the US property developer William Zeckendorf in 1948, shortly after he received his graduate degree in architecture from Harvard, to oversee the design of buildings produced by Zeckendorf’s firm, Webb & Knapp.
In his early years, I. M. Pei & Associates mainly executed projects for Zeckendorf, including Kips Bay Plaza in New York, finished in 1963; Society Hill Towers in Philadelphia (1964); and Silver Towers in New York (1967). All were notable for their gridded concrete facades.
In 1983, he won the Pritzker Prize, the highest honour a living architect can receive and the $100,000 award prize money that came was used to establish a scholarship fund for Chinese architecture students.
Pei was one of the few architects who were equally attractive to real-estate developers, corporate chieftains and art-museum boards. And all his work, from his commercial skyscrapers to his art museums, represented a careful balance of the cutting edge and the conservative.
He is survived by his sons Li Chung and Chien Chung, both also architects, his daughter, Liane; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Pei also leaves behind a significant body of work across the globe ranging from cultural institutions, civic centers to commercial spaces and more.