The legacy of American architect I.M. Pei stretches from west to east, from the Louvre museum to his native China, where he helped fuse tradition with modernity as the country opened up after the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese-born designer was one of the 20th century's most renowned architects, and was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1983, considered the Nobel Prize of the architecture world.
Visitors walk below the glass Pyramid entrance, designed by Chinese-born USA architect I.M. Pei, at the Louvre Museum in Paris in 2007. "It's his work over a generation of time and his logical and relentless pursuit of the highest degree of excellence". Pei has been credited with saving modernist architecture, which was thought of as cold and uninviting, with open, welcoming public spaces, per the Washington Post.
His Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing, completed in 1982, uses a traditional Chinese design. Three years later he became Chancellor of the Academy, the first architect to hold the position.
Pei, who as a schoolboy in Shanghai was inspired by its building boom in the 1930s, immigrated to the United States and studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Among the firm's accomplishments are the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
After working briefly for the US National Defense Research Committee during World War II, he began his career as an architect at Webb & Knapp, Inc., the firm of American real estate developer William Zeckendorf in 1948.
In 1964, Pei was picked by John F. Kennedy's family to design his presidential library.
At the time, Jacqueline Kennedy said all the candidates were excellent, "But Pei!"
Pei said the Louvre was the most hard job of his career.
The Bank of China Tower, centre, is pictured in Hong Kong on August 23, 2012.
The project was the result of a recommendation made by Vincent Ponte, a NY city planner who visited Australia in late 1969 and suggested that "ANZ, AMP Society and Mainline Corporation get together to use their total of three and a third acres [approximately 13,500 square metres] to develop a joint venture", reported the Sydney Morning Herald on 20 June, 1971.
He elaborated on those geometric shapes in the design of the marble-clad East Building of the National Gallery (1978), the most acclaimed of Pei's projects. "I want to find the originality in the time, the place, and the problem". From his Manhattan office, Pei and his crew created a model, renderings and plans for a dramatic re-creation of downtown Oklahoma City. "That is the magic of I.M. Pei", he said.
He is survived by his sons Li Chung Pei and Chieng Chung Pei. He was married to Eileen Loo from 1942 until her death in 2014.