Dezeen Magazine

IM Pei

IM Pei dies aged 102

Pritzker Prize-winning architect IM Pei has passed away aged 102.

The Chinese-American architect's death on 16 May was confirmed by his firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. His son, Li Chung Pei, told The New York Times that his father passed away overnight.

Pei is known for a bold modernist style that experimented with strict geometries and shapes, and a portfolio that comprises museums, libraries and civic centres.

The Grande Louvre by IM Pei
IM Pei, architect of the Louvre pyramid has died aged 102

His most significant buildings include the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, the glass-and-steel pyramid at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, and the Kennedy Library in Boston.

Hong Kong's Bank of China Tower, China's Suzhou Museum, Japan's Miho Museum and America's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are among his other celebrated projects.

Pei's death marks "end of an architectural era"

Pei received a number prestigious accolades during his career, including the AIA Gold Medal in 1979, the Pritzker Prize in 1983, the first Praemium Imperiale for Architecture in 1989, and RIBA's Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 2010.

He was highly regarded among members of the architecture community.

"The end of an architectural era" said writer, author and critic Paul Goldberger on Twitter, "a sad moment, but a career – and a life – worthy of celebration."

Dallas City Hall by I.M. Pei
IM Pei completed the Dallas City Hall in 1978. Photograph by Flickr user Bryan

In 2010, architect David Adjaye listed Pei as one of his role models.

"When I began my studies in architecture, IM Pei was already a giant in the canon of greats," he said. "His work seemed effortlessly capable of creating extraordinary clarity out of complex and conflicting demands."

Pei studied under Bauhaus masters

Ieoh Ming Pei was born on 26 April 1917 in Guangzhou, China. He moved to the US to study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in 1935.

Pei then undertook an engineering course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), before studying at Harvard's Graduate School of Design – where he had former Bauhaus masters Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer as his tutors.

Museum of Islamic Art by I.M. Pei
IM Pei's lengthy career continued into the new millennium with his Museum of Islamic Art in Doha opening in 2008. Photograph by Yueqi Jazzy Li

He began his professional career working for American real-estate magnate William Zeckendorf from 1948.

Pei founded his New York architecture firm in 1955 with Henry N Cobb and Eason H Leonard. The practice had several name changes, before becoming Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in 1989. Pei retired from practising full-time a year later, but continued to consult on many projects.