I.M. Pei, the brilliant and controversial American architect of Chinese origin who based his design for the new Louvre Museum on his fascination with pyramids, has passed away at the age of 102.
The son of a top-level Chinese banker, I.M. Pei (Ieoh Ming Pei) moved to the US in 1935. He studied architecture at Harvard and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After a stint working for the US government, he began working for a New York developer and followed up by starting his own firm in 1955.
The numerous buildings designed and built by Pei and his team around the world included hotels, municipal buildings and schools. They shared a feeling for precision geometry with much thought given to natural light.
His projects share a feeling for precision geometry with much thought given to natural light
Stone, steel and glass were Pei’s principal building materials. His projects often included a glass pyramid as at the Louvre.
After French president Francois Mitterand commissioned Pei for the new Louvre project, both the architect and his design became highly controversial.
As if Pei being a Chinese-American wasn’t bad enough, he went on to design a futuristic, 70ft tall pyramid with steel frame and glass walls as the new museum entrance.
In addition, there were three smaller pyramids nearby. When the new structure was opened to the public in 1993, the contrast with the classical French architectural style dating back to the 12th century was so stark that Pei’s design was described as an annexe to Disneyland as well as structures, which would better suit a desert.
The numerous buildings designed and built by Pei and his team around the world included hotels, municipal buildings and schools. They shared a feeling for precision geometry with much thought given to natural light
Pei began his design after a four-month study of the museum and French history. He described the job as the most difficult he had ever faced and said he was trying to create a modern space that blended with the traditional style.
Pei was married to Eileen Loo until her death in 2014. Two of their four children too became architects.