Pei, I. M.
from The New Book of Knowledge®
The Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei was born on April 26, 1917, in Guangzhou (Canton), China. He moved to the United States in 1935 to study architecture. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. Pei became an American citizen in 1954. A year later he opened his own architectural firm in New York City.
Pei's buildings are noted for their bold geometric shapes and functional design. They also reflect his interest in designing small-scale units of space that work together as a whole. He succeeded in this approach with the design of the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York (1968). A later example is the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (1978). This structure was designed in the shape of two connecting triangles to conform to an awkward building site. Pei's firm also designed the immense Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City (1986).
One of Pei's most challenging commissions came in 1984. That year, President François Mitterand of France selected him to expand the Louvre Museum in Paris. Pei's plan included the construction of a glass pyramid 65 feet (20 meters) tall in the center of the old Louvre courtyard. This pyramid would serve as the new main entrance to the museum. Critics throughout France opposed the plan. Yet when the project was completed in 1989, it was found to be thoroughly functional. It also lent unity to the entire architectural setting.
Pei's other works include the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester, Massachusetts (1979), the Fragrant Hill Hotel in Peking (1983), and the 70-story Bank of China headquarters in Hong Kong (1989).
Howard E. Wooden
The Wichita Art Museum