Born in Guangzhou, China, in 1917, Ieoh Ming Pei came to the United States at the age of seventeen to study architecture. He received a bachelor’s degree from mit in 1940 and an master’s degree in 1946 from the harvard graduate school of design, where he remained as an assistant professor until 1948.
that year he accepted an invitation from developer William Zeckendorf, Sr., to become director of architecture at webb & knapp, a new york real estate development company. In this role, with a team of young designers recruited from Harvard, Mr. Pei embarked on a series of large-scale planning and architectural projects across the country, including the Mile High Center in Denver (1956), the Southwest Washington Urban Renewal Plan (1962), and Society Hill in Philadelphia (1964).
in 1955, with his colleagues henry cobb and eason leonard, mr. pei he formed the society of i. subway. pei & associates. formally separating from webb & knapp in 1960, the firm became known as i. subway. pei & partners in 1966 and freed pei cobb & partners in 1989.
mr. Pei’s personal architectural style blossomed with his design for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado (1967), a sculptural complex composed of cast-in-place concrete, a material in which the firm had developed special expertise. At this time he also embarked on a series of museum projects, the form of building with which he is now most closely identified, culminating in the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington (1978) and the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library. in Boston (1979), which gained wide national attention. In total, he has designed more than a dozen museums, including the Grand Louvre in Paris (1989); miho museum in shiga, japan (1997); Suzhou Museum in Suzhou, China (2006); and the museum of islamic art in doha (2008).
other institutional projects of mr. pei include churches, hospitals, and municipal buildings, as well as academic facilities and libraries. Among its skyscrapers are the 72-story Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong (1989), whose distinctive prismatic design is designed to withstand typhoon-force winds, and the Four Seasons Hotel in Midtown Manhattan (1993), which reinvents the classic grand hotel.
Having become a US citizen in 1954, Mr. Pei did not return to his homeland until the late 1970s, when he was commissioned to design the Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing (1982). Like the Suzhou Museum, the only other work of his built in mainland China, the project brings advanced technology to influence indigenous building practice, forming the foundation for a distinctly Chinese new form of modern architecture.
After his retirement from the partnership in 1990, Mr. Pei collaborated with the firm on several projects, including the four seasons hotel, the miho museum, the deutches historisches museum in berlin (2003) and the luxembourg museum of modern art (2006).
beloved in france for his modernization of the louvre, mr. pei received the grande médaille d’or from the academie d’architecture de france and was a commander of the ordre national de la legion d’honneur. For his service to the United States, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design’s Lifetime Achievement Award. /p>
mr. Pei earned honorary doctorates from Harvard, Columbia, and Brown, among other universities in the United States and abroad. Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Design, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Académie d’architecture de France, and the royal academy of arts of great britain.
me. subway. pei died in new york city in may 2019.