Culture&Arts

Pei dies at 102

Pei dies at 102

Born in China in 1917, banker's son Ieoh Ming Pei came to the U.S. at 17 to study architecture, receiving an undergraduate degree in the field from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940 and then receiving a master's degree in architecture at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design in 1946.

Pei, who celebrated his 102th birthday on April 26, died in NY, his sons' architecture firm Pei Partnership Architects confirmed Thursday.

Mr Michael Ngu, chief executive of local architectural firm architects61, said he was "honoured" and "blessed" to have worked in Mr Pei's NY office in Madison Avenue in the 1980s.

The cool monumentalism with which Pei would always be associated emerged in the helmeted concrete towers, echoing the Rocky Mountain foothills, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado (1967).

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.

In addition to his museum oeuvre and contributions to the government and commercial landscape, Pei also worked on moderate and low-income housing.

Pei said of the project: "All through the centuries, the Louvre has undergone violent change". "His tact and patience have enabled him to draw together peoples of disparate interests and disciplines to create a harmonious environment".

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Pei designed the more modern pyramid structure outside the famed Louvre museum in Paris.

Not all Pei's buildings were successful - the Hancock Tower in Boston, commissioned by John Hancock Insurance to overshadow the building of competitor Prudential, became the tallest building in New England when completed in 1976 but began shedding glass panels before it was even complete, forcing the builders to replace the entire facade. "The time had to be right". President George H.W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992. As with the Suzhou Museum, Pei had a personal connection to this project - his father was previously a manager at the bank. Their father's firm, previously I.M. Pei and Partners, was renamed Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. As an "expert" in Japanese construction, his job was to determine the best way to burn down Japanese towns. A student of the revered Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer while at Harvard, Pei broke with his profession's gentile conventions when, in the late 1940s, he dared to start his career working for a real estate developer: the brash, larger-than-life William Zeckendorf.

Some of his early successes included the Mile High Center office building in Denver, the Kips Bay Plaza Apartments in Manhattan, and the Society Hill apartment complex in Philadelphia.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Reuters and New York Times news reports.

Pei established his own architectural firm in 1955, a year after he became a USA citizen.

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.

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