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I.M Pei, the renowned architect behind the famous Louvre Pyramid, has died aged 102

He also designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, and the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston

I.M Pei
I.M Pei
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE RENOWNED ARCHITECT who designed the Louvre Pyramid in Paris has died.

I.M Pei, who lived to be 102 years old, was the mastermind behind a number of landmark buildings including the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong and the US National Gallery of Art in Washington.

His sons’ architecture firm, Pei Partnership Architects, confirmed the news saying he had died overnight on Wednesday. 

His work earned the 1983 Pritzker Prize, considered architecture’s Nobel prize. Of his nearly 50 designs in the United States and around the world, more than half won major awards.

30th Anniversary Celebrations Of The Louvre Pyramid Louvre Pyramid in Paris Source: Marechal Aurore/ABACA

“Contemporary architects tend to impose modernity on something. There is a certain concern for history but it’s not very deep,” Pei told The New York Times in a 2008 interview.

“I understand that times have changed, we have evolved. But I don’t want to forget the beginning,” he said, adding “a lasting architecture has to have roots.”

French president Francois Mitterrand was so impressed that he had Pei hired to build a glass pyramid into the courtyard of the Louvre, the world’s most visited museum, which opened in 1989.

The project was deeply controversial in Paris and Pei endured a roasting from critics before the giant glass structure opening, but his creation is now an icon of the French capital.

“I received many angry glances in the streets of Paris,” Pei later said, confessing that “after the Louvre, I thought no project would be too difficult.”

Hong Kong Obit IM Pei Bank of China tower in Hong Kong Source: Vincent Yu

Some of the other world-famous works from the architect include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, and the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.

In Japan, he was the brains behind the Miho Museum as well as The Gateway skyscraper complex in Singapore. 

Despite being a confessed Islamic art novice, Pei was also commissioned to design the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, which opened in 2008 to great fanfare.

Qatar: Doha corniche and the Museum of Islamic Art Museum of Islamic Art, Doha Source: Dominic Dudley

The desert-toned building, inspired by the 13th century Mosque of Ahmad ibn Tulun in Cairo, incorporates geometric patterns and is lit by reflected light entering from above. 

Pei spent months traveling the Muslim world seeking inspiration.

“Islam was one religion I did not know,” he told the Times the year of the opening. “So I studied the life of Muhammad. I went to Egypt and Tunisia.”

With reporting from © – AFP 2019

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