On 26 April, Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei turned 100 years old and what a one-hundred years it has been! After arriving in the US from China, his interest in modernist architecture was heavily influenced by his discovery of Le Corbusier’s work. I.M. Pei met Le Corbusier, aka Swiss-French architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, during his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he wanted to change his major to engineering, but was persuaded to stick to architecture. Le Courbusier was not the only one who impressed young I.M. Pei. He also drew inspiration by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. The latter taught at Graduate Studies of Design (GSD) at Harvard University.Although I.M. Pei wanted to return to China soon after he finished his studies, he had to change his plans due to the Second World War and has spent most of his life in the US. He only visited China for the first time in 1974 again. His incredible eye for design and the combination of classical traditions, modernist and international architecture catapulted him to the top of the world renowned architects list and resulted in the reception of the Pritzker Prize in 1983. I.M. Pei’s projects are too many to count and recount. His interpretation of modernist architecture over a 60-year period is attested in the world’s most recognized buildings.So, all we have to say is: happy, happy birthday and thank you!
Sources: photographes courtesy of RIBA, of Victor Orlewicz and PeiCobbFreedPartners, New York Magazine