Renowned architect IM Pei dies at age 102

Lula Sharp
May 18, 2019

In 1990, the Bank of China Tower opened - and his modern, soaring design instantly became one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in Hong Kong.

According to The New York Times, the Chinese-born American passed away overnight.

He considers Mr Pei his mentor and the "godfather of modern architecture". "There is a certain concern for history but it's not very deep. But I don't want to forget the beginning", he said.

"A lasting architecture has to have roots".

Overall, more than half of his designs worldwide won major architecture awards.

Ieoh Ming Pei (YEE-oh ming PAY) was born on April 26, 1917, in Canton, China, the city now called Guangzhou.

He came to the U.S.to study architecture at age 17, receiving a bachelor's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940 and a master's from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design in 1946. He became a naturalized USA citizen in 1954. Once it opened, however, it proved a triumph-the most admired of the "Grand Projets" with which France's then-President Francois Mitterrand hoped to transform Paris.

"All through the centuries, the Louvre has undergone violent change", Pei said.

Over the course of his prolific career, Pei designed cultural institutions such as the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston (1967); the Everson Museum of Art (1968) in Syracuse, New York; the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (1978); the Miho Museum in Shiga, Japan (1997); and the Suzhou Museum in China (2006). In Singapore, he designed Raffles City, The Gateway in Beach Road and the OCBC Centre in Chulia Street. Completed in the mid-1950s, it was one of the only high-rise buildings in the city at the time.

No challenge seemed to be too great for Pei, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which sits on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

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Pei spent months traveling the Muslim world seeking inspiration.

"Islam was one religion I did not know", he told the Times the year of the opening. "So I studied the life of Muhammad".

While at MIT, Pei volunteered for the National Defense Research Committee where he worked fusing bombs during World War II.

Visitors walk below the glass Pyramid entrance, designed by Chinese-born USA architect I.M. Pei, at the Louvre Museum in Paris in 2007.

In 1975, Pei was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Pei had four children, two of whom became architects.

He was also one of 12 naturalized United States citizens then-president Ronald Reagan awarded the Medal of Liberty in 1986.

Some of his designs were met with much controversy such as the 22-metre faceted glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre museum in Paris.

Among his many honors were the American Institute of Architects' Gold Medal in 1979; the Grande Medaille d'Or from the Academie d'Architecture de France three years later; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the US, from President George H.W. Bush in 1992. The museum, designed by I.M. Pei, houses a collection of Islamic art from the 7th to the 19th century.

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