Born in China in 1917, banker's son Ieoh Ming Pei came to the United States at 17 to study architecture, receiving an undergraduate degree in the field from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940 and then receiving a master's degree in architecture at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design in 1946. Henri Loyrette, the Louvre's director at the time, called it a masterpiece.
He considers Mr Pei his mentor and the "godfather of modern architecture". But he was considered a modernist.
"The design of this building is in itself a very Chinese way of thinking about architecture, and a very innovative way of trying to put Chinese architecture within the dialogue of western architectural theory and practice", said Andy Xiong, an architecture student. But, he said, his architecture is not just geometry.
Pei was also responsible for designing the accompanying "pyramid ininversée" (inverted pyramid)-an inverse of the original pyramid that is located in the Carrousel du Louvre in front of the Louvre Museum.
"An element that's nearly always consistent in his architecture is a light-filled atrium space to be loved by its occupants".
What are shapes without light? he asked - and added, "The light of the sun is magical".
Pei was born in Suzhou, China in 1917. He grew up in a house where gardens and airy pavilions merged with the landscape. "He was interested in the sculptural properties of rocks". Two of his sons, Chien Chung Pei and Li Chung Pei, former members of their father's firm, formed Pei Partnership Archiitects in 1992. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1954.
Pei's privileged upbringing helped him navigate the alpha male world of architecture and real estate.
Over the course of his prolific career, Pei designed cultural institutions such as the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston (1967); the Everson Museum of Art (1968) in Syracuse, New York; the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (1978); the Miho Museum in Shiga, Japan (1997); and the Suzhou Museum in China (2006).
Pei didn't get everything right.
The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (above), which opened in 1986, was designed by Pei.
From the controversial Louvre Pyramid in Paris to the landmark Bank of China tower in Hong Kong, the Chinese-born Pei was the mastermind behind works seen as embracing modernity tempered by a grounding in history.
His works, which have been proven to stand the test of time, will continue to exist, to be loved and admired, even when the creator is gone. He used the $100,000 USA award to start a program for aspiring Chinese architects to study in the United States. Wang believes Pei figured out a way to bridge East and West, old and new, and he thinks of Pei as a teacher - someone who came before him, and whose successes and mistakes he learned from.
Pei "has made important contributions to the mutual understanding between the Chinese and American people and the exchange of eastern and western cultures for a long time", a spokesman for China's foreign ministry said Friday.
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