I. M. Pei

Pei, I(eoh) M(ing) (1917- ), Chinese American architect, is one of the most innovative and prolific 20th-century architects. His work represents a fusion of a classical concern for elegance of form with a contemporary concern for functional efficiency.

Born in Guangzhou (Canton), China, Pei immigrated to the United States in 1935; he studied architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. From 1945 to 1948 he taught at Harvard. In 1956 he established his own firm, I. M. Pei & Partners, which has been known since 1989 as Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in acknowledgement of the significant contributions of Pei’s longtime partners, Henry Cobb and James Freed. The firm has been responsible for some of the largest public and private construction projects of the mid- to late-20th century, in the United States and abroad.

The firm is noted for its rational and sensitive handling of a wide variety of design problems. Its massive urban projects in Montréal, Québec (Place Ville-Marie, 1961) and Denver, Colorado (Mile High Center, 1955), for example, are multipurpose complexes of plazas and high-rise buildings that retain a sense of classical order in their axial arrangement. The John Hancock Tower in Boston, Massachusetts (1976), is clad in blue-green mirrored glass to provide a reflective environment for the neighboring historic Copley Square. The East Building of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1978), is a striking trapezoidal structure of triangular wings, skylights, and knife-edged fins. Some of the firm's other major projects include the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City (1986); the pyramidal glass entrance (1989) and Richelieu Wing (1993) of the Louvre museum in Paris, France; the Bank of China, Hong Kong, China (1989); the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (1993); the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio (1995); and the San Francisco Main Public Library and Civic Center (1996).

"Pei, I(eoh) M(ing)," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004
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