Ieoh Ming Pei, born in 1917 was a Chinese-American architect known for his explicit bold designs and intriguing geometric forms. He moved to the US in 1935 for his higher studies and started his career in Architecture. He started I.M. Pei and Associates in 1955 which later changed to I.M. Pei and Partners in 1966. His remarkable approaches to the designs got him many awards; Architectural firm award of American Institute of Architects (1968), a Gold medal of the American Institute of Architects (1979), Gold Medal for Architecture of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1979), Pritzker prize (1983) and many more. During his 60 years of architectural practice, I.M. Pei had created more than 50 Architectural wonders from which 15 most iconic projects are listed below:
1. SUZHOU MUSEUM, SUZHOU, CHINA
Built-in 1960, in the heart of Suzhou, China, this structure revives the Chinese vernacular style with a tinge of modernism. I.M. Pei fused his design principles with different elements and materials such as clay tile roof structure, whitewashed plastered walls and Chinese garden to get the hybrid results. Grey bold lines were used as a contrast on plain white walls to define the geometry of the design. Central axis Symmetry, geometry, Gazebo, Skylights, Height of the structure in context with its overall site, and folded roofs are some of the key features of this project, which created the building representing vernacular architecture with a modern touch.
2. NATIONAL CENTRE OF ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH, BOULDER, COLO
This is one of the major commissioned buildings by Pei in the early years of Pei and Associates. The construction of this building started in the year 1960 and completed in 1966. These tall structures were called crow’s nest by designers. It’s simple and bold design was planned according to the climatic conditions, and to provide best views possible from the hilltop. Inspired by American Indian dwellings, this structure was built in concrete and stone, overlooking the city with contrasting rocky mountain as a backdrop; it stands still attracting every visitor and travelers passing by.
3. LUCE MEMORIAL CHAPEL, TAICHUNG, TAIWAN
In 1963 this chapel was added to Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan. It was designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei in collaboration with an artist and architect Chen Chi-Kwan. The site area of the Chapel is 12000 sqm with the floor area 477 sqm and 500 seats. Keeping the environmental aspects as the top priority, the chapel was constructed in reinforced concrete to provide stability and durability from typhoons and earthquakes. This iconic structure shows the dynamics of geometry and marvel of climate responsive design.
4. LE GRAND LOUVRE, PARIS, FRANCE
In 1983 I.M. Pei had commissioned the renovation work for the famous historic monument of Paris by then elected President Francois Mitterrand, and was completed in 1989. This was one of the most prestigious at the same time a controversial project as his design of the pyramid was considered as the symbol of death from Egypt. In addition to this, the design was not in line with the old French Renaissance architecture which brought along a lot of criticism. It was a huge challenge for Pei to add modern design without compromising the details and design of the existing structure. This glass and steel pyramid at the center of the court provides an entrance lobby connecting to all the wings. It acts like a focal point enhancing the ambiance by diffused lights and complementing the grandeur of the monument.
5. JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, BOSTON
This building was designed as a tribute to former president John F. Kennedy on 10-acre Park. It overlooks the sea at one side and the whole city of Boston on the other. I.M. Pei designed it by splitting the design according to the different functions, segregating the major private space on upper levels, and keeping public spaces on the ground level and a level below. Geometric shapes being Pei’s major principle were used incorporating maximum natural light in the building. This concrete, glass, and steel structure became the most famous and stunning structure expressing Kennedy’s love for sea and beach while keeping its aesthetics and functions intact.
6. EVERSON MUSEUM OF ART, SYRACUSE, N.Y.
It was constructed to inhabit the arts and artifacts, majorly ceramics in America in 1968. Pei known for his bold, geometrical designs, planned this building like a sculpture on a podium which can be accessed by all 4 sides. The entry to the building is bluffed; he provided an entrance for the visitors and natural light between the independent blocks. These concrete blocks were finished in striated chisels to resemble a large sculpture, interconnected by bridges on the 2nd floor. All the galleries differ in volume, size, and height with a cantilevered second story creating gallant expression.
7. BANK OF CHINA, HONG KONG
Standing on an intricate island in typhoon prone area, it is Hong Kong’s tallest building adding the vertical milestone in the skyline. It is 70 stories tall, asymmetrical glass and steel structure designed by I.M. Pei meets the expectation of the client and the cityscape. This building comprises of 4 vertical shafts which help in resisting high-velocity winds and reduces internal supports as a result, it saved steel quantity. This design was inspired by the growth pattern of bamboo, symbolizing hope, and revitalization according to Chinese culture.
8. DALLAS CITY HALL, DALLAS, USA
In 1978, Pei took the form of an inverted pyramid, to design this building nourishing all requirements and functions. This structure was constructed in cast-in-situ with an outward slope of 34°. 560 feet long, with its width varying by 9 feet on every floor, stand strong and bold with small public offices housed on lower floors and large Administrative offices with other private spaces on top floors. This splendid structure came into controversies as well for its cost crossing the specified budget, and executed in 3 phases; garage parking, park plaza, and the main building.
9. ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME, CLEVELAND, OHIO
After completing a series of the museum, the juxtaposition of geometric shapes and sloping glass reached Cleveland making a statement of modern dynamics. The building inhabits galleries, offices, and concert hall and was completed in 1995. With reducing floor plate as the building rises, 165 feet tall circular tower balances the form, incorporating all the required spaces segregated according to its function.
10. EAST BUILDING OF NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, WASHINGTON D.C.
Probably this was one of the most challenging sites Pei was commissioned for during that period, completed in 1978. The Site had an odd trapezoidal shape, with limitations in context to its surroundings and slope towards the north. Pei had to come up with a design that can incorporate all the requirements, without compromising on design and aesthetics with respect to its surrounding buildings; the National Mall to the south, and neo-classical designed building to the west. Tennessee marble and glass were the major materials used for finishes. Pei split the trapezoid into 2 triangles, extruded 2 individual volumes connected by a central atrium which provides an abundance of natural light.
11. MIHO MUSEUM, KYOTO, JAPAN
Completed in 1997, this building by I.M. Pei in collaboration with Kibowkan International, Inc. complements the existing scenic mountainside in the nature preserve. The arched tunnel provides its visitors a mystic experience, leading towards a grommet shaped roof made of glass and beige limestone structure. Surrounded by nature and fresh air, a calm and peaceful environment attracts many visitors across the globe. Pei wanted to create a space that reflects the old Chinese tale, ‘Peach Blossom Valley’ to exhibit the private collection of ‘Mihoko Koyama’, and he did it by providing the best experience to its users.
12. MEYERSON SYMPHONY CENTRE, DALLAS
I.M. Pei along with Russell Johnson, an acoustics expert, designed one of the best Orchestra Hall in Dallas in 1989. To provide all the users, an exceptional experience; 56 acoustic curtains, 74 concrete doors weighing approximately 2.5 tons, and canopies were utilized. The exterior glass and steel façade creates a contrasting effect along with the solid stone surface. Pei’s bold geometry principle distinct this building from the surrounding structures, highlighting its grand stature.
13. JAVITS CENTRE, NEW YORK
I.M. Pei and his then partner; James Freed designed this massive building in rectilinear plan executed by using prefabricated steel frame modules finished with glass as an exterior façade in1986. Tubular steel pillars were used to support the structure internally. A 150 feet high lobby at the south entrance resembles crystal palace, inhabiting exhibition halls, meeting rooms, and an auditorium of 2500 capacity covering around 1.8 million Sq.ft area. With its overrunning cost, this structure enlisted into controversial projects of Pei.
14. FRAGRANT HILL HOTEL, BEIJING, CHINA
In 1982 this Luxury hotel was completed and won AIA national honor award in 1984. Unlike other designs by Pei, this doesn’t have a sloped glass roof or walls. He used the rectangular form to plan this building reviving the Chinese culture. In the century where all the buildings were turning modern, people were changing their lifestyle, Pei reincarnated vernacular architecture of china.
15. MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART, DOHA, QATAR
Built-in 2008, this Cultural center is I.M. Pei’s last major commissioned building. He decided to design this marvelous structure to learn something about the culture, he knew nothing about. To construct a structure and give his best, he started is research and studies the biography of Prophet Mohammad. The complex comprises of 1 main building adjacent to an education wing. The design of this structure bear a resemblance to different sized boxes stacked one above the other. The main building is 5 a floor structure topped with a domed atrium contained by the central tower. Cream-colored limestone was used which appears different as the daylight changes. The circular staircase in the center on the atrium acts like a sculpture connecting ground and first floor, and right above it hangs a metal chandelier following the movement of the steps. This is one of the most beautiful statures of Pei’s works.