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Renowned architect I.M. Pei dies at 102

by Margaret Tazioli
Posted 5/17/19, 11:05 am

Chinese-born American architect I.M. Pei, who designed the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris, has died at age 102, a spokesman confirmed Thursday. Pei often said he was in the right place at the right time for his successes. Born in China in 1917, Pei moved to Boston in 1935 and studied design and structural engineering at MIT and Harvard. The communist revolution in the 1940s prevented Pei from returning to China, and he accepted a job with a real estate developer in New York, where he worked 10 years before establishing his own architectural firm.

When Pei was still relatively unknown, Jacqueline Kennedy personally selected him from among 20 architects to design the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library because of his simple, innovative style. That single commission lifted Pei from obscurity and placed him on the international map. He is best known for his work modernizing the Louvre with its iconic glass and steel pyramid at its entrance. He also worked commissions for the Bank of China in Hong Kong, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and dozens of others.

Louvre employees gathered Friday under the pyramid to commemorate Pei with one minute of applause. Jean-Luc Martinez, president-director of the museum, expressed his “huge sadness.”

Pei’s wife of 73 years, Eileen, and his eldest son, T’ing Chung Pei, preceded him in death. He is survived by two sons, Chien Chung and Li Chung, and a daughter, Liane. Both of his living sons are architects.


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Margaret Tazioli

Margaret is a WORLD intern.

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