Friday, April 2, 2010

Design Friday: I.M. Pei

So, I decided to take a break from the Elements & Principles of Design this week, and focus on another master architect of our time, I.M. Pei (pronounced I.M. Pay). I actually just watched a PBS show on his Suzhou Museum in China, and was excited to research him. His works and impact are so extensive I really don't have enough time to do him justice, so merely consider this an introduction.

I.M. Pei was born in China in 1917, and moved to America when he was 17 years old. Here he received his bachelor's degree in architecture at MIT, and his graduate degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he studied under Walter Gropius (the founder of the Bauhaus, and I can't even believe I haven't highlighted him yet!). In 1983 he was the winner of the Pritzker Architecture prize, which is considered the Nobel Prize of architecture, and has been the recipient of many, many awards. He is considered a master of modern art, with works dotting the globe.
For a list of his works, follow this link to the website of the firm he founded, Pei Cobb Freed and Partners (formerly known as I.M. Pei and Associates). He has also worked with his sons in their firm, Pei Partnership Architects, but outside of the Suzhou Museum, I am not sure which works he has designed with them.
Two of his works that I have been able to see with my very own eyes are the entrance to the Louvre in Paris (1993):

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... and the East Building of the National Gallery in Washington D.C. (1978):

picture from:

I'll have to give these works their own post. But I did want to note two things: As you can imagine, the modern entrance to the Louvre was highly controversial to the French. Pei's intention with his works is to not only honor the tradition of a city, but also move it forward into the present.
Also, here's a little known fact about the East Wing of the National Gallery. As you enter, there is a granite wall that has the names of the architects and builders engraved in it. The granite surface of I.M. Pei's name has been rubbed brown from all of the people who have touched his name when they visit (...including moi).


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