I. M. Pei

Ieoh Ming Pei (b. 1917) left China when he was eighteen to study architecture at MIT and Harvard. Between 1942 and 1945, he worked as a concrete designer for Stone and Webster, and in 1946 he began work in the office of Hugh Asher Stubbins, in Boston. Pei worked as an instructor and then as an assistant professor at Harvard before he joined Webb & Knapp Inc. in New York in 1948. Pei worked as the head of the architectural division of Webb and Knapp, Inc. until 1960, when he resigned and founded his own architectural office, I. M. Pei & Partners, New York, which in 1979 became Pei, Cobb, Free & Partners.

Due to his reliance on abstract form and materials such as stone, concrete, glass, and steel, Pei has been considered a disciple of Walter Gropius. However, Pei shows little concern with theory. He does not believe that architecture must find forms to express the times or that it should remain isolated from commercial forces. Pei generally designs sophisticated glass clad buildings loosely related to the high-tech movement. However, many of his designs result from original design concepts. He frequently works on a large scale and is renowned for his sharp, geometric designs.
 

The son of a wealthy and prominent banker - economist, Ieoh Ming Pei lived in Shanghai and Hong Kong, as well as his native Canton, in the years following his birth in 1917.Ieoh Ming Pei came to the United States to study in 1935. Ieoh Ming Pei matriculated at MIT where Ieoh Ming Pei majored in architectural  engineering. From MIT, Ieoh Ming Pei moved to Harvard, where in 1942 Ieoh Ming Pei studied with Gropius Walter and Breuer for six months. Pei worked as an instructor and then as an assistant professor at Harvard before he joined Webb & Knapp Inc. in New York in 1948. Between 1942 and 1945, he worked as a concrete designer for Stone and Webster, and in 1946 he began work in the office of Hugh Asher Stubbins, in Boston.  Later was head of the architectural division of Webb and Knapp, Inc. until 1960, when he resigned and founded his own architectural office, I. M. Pei & Partners, New York, which in 1979 became Pei, Cobb, Free & Partners.

 

His Inspiration :
William Emerson, the dean at MIT, was influential in shifting Ieoh Ming Pei 's interests from engineering to architecture. At Harvard, during his (Graduate School of Design) GSD , Ieoh Ming Pei was heavily influenced by both Gropius and Breuer. Clean, flat surfaces became a trademark of the era. These and other Bauhaus ideas and ideals were most distressing to Dean Emerson, Ieoh Ming Pei 's early mentor at MIT. Such notions were highly suspect in the beaux-arts atmosphere that permeated most schools of architecture in the 1940s. Despite these concerns, Ieoh Ming Pei matured and flourished under the tutelage of the Graduate School of Design's Dean Hudnut, as well as Gropius and Breuer. Bauhaus aesthetic ancestry is undeniable visible but  the clarity and strength of solution is largely out of Richardson, Sullivan, and Wright. These German influences were assimilated at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The vocabulary of powerful forms of enduring beauty belied the notion that modernism meant banality. The firm became the recognized expert in the postbrutalist era of architecture as almost anthropomorphic concrete art.

 

His Philosophy:
The clarity of vision and seeming simplicity of execution of that vision mark the work. His design Philosophy results from original design concepts and his sharp, geometric sense. The firm's successes, whether in the crisp concrete of the Atmospheric Research Center or the crystalline minimalism of Fountain Place, rely on the power of simple geometries that do not venture far from the original and singular ideas that Ieoh Ming Pei and his partners conceived. The raw power of Concrete is tempered by careful detailing, close attention to choice of materials, and a thorough understanding of, and sensitivity to, site. The difficult site is exploited for its potential; the rich materials and details are never pretentious or precious; the geometries always make the complex look simple. Due to his reliance on abstract form and materials such as stone, concrete, glass, and steel, Pei has been considered a disciple of Walter Gropius. However, Pei shows little concern with theory. He does not believe that architecture must find forms to express the times or that it should remain isolated from commercial forces. Ieoh Ming Pei will likely be remembered as a bastion of modernism whose appreciation for the urbane in art, planning, and architecture led him to the design of many of the world's most thoughtful projects.

His legacy:

A Legend Remembered:
“Great artists need Great Clients”

"It is not an individual act, architecture. You have to consider your client. Only out of that can you produce great architecture. You cannot work in the abstract" 1978

His Impact -- His Projects:

Washington Plaza Apartments, Pittsburgh PA (1964)
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Toronto (1973)
Dallas City Hall, Texas (1977 )
Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas (1989)
Le Grand Louvre, Paris (1993)
The Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse (1968)
The National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder (1967)
National Gallery of Art
Texas Commerce Bank Tower in Houston (1982 )
Kips Bay Plaza through the Des Moines Art Center Addition (1968)
The Mellon Center for the Arts at Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut (1972);
The Atmospheric Research Center; the Christian Science Center in Boston (1973) (designed under the direction of Araldo Cossutta, who served as fourth partner from 196^-1973)
The Johnson Museum of Art at Comell University (1973)
The Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Centre in Singapore (1976),

Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar Nov 2008