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I. M. Pei

Pei, I. M. (Ieoh Ming Pei)pā, 1917–, Chinese-American architect, b. Guangzhou, China. Pei emigrated to the United States in 1935 and studied at the Univ. of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard, where he taught from 1945 to 1948. That year he joined Webb and Knapp, Inc.; there he designed such projects as Mile High Center in Denver (1954–59). He established his own firm in 1955. In his works, structure and environment are carefully integrated with precise geometrical design and a superb sense of craft, resulting in crisp, clear, sculptural structures. He is known for his sensuous use of such materials as marble, concrete, and glass and for his soaring interior spaces. Pei's involvement in urban planning includes the Government Center, Boston (1961), and Society Hill, Philadelphia (with Edmund N. Bacon, 1964).

Among his notable later buildings are the John Hancock Tower, Boston (1973); the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1978); the Jacob Javits Exposition and Convention Center, New York City (1986); the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland (1995); the Miho Museum, Kyoto (1998); a new wing of the German Historical Museum, Berlin (2003); and the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar (2008). His master plan for the Louvre's expansion and renovation (1987–89) initially outraged critics, in large part because of the glass pyramid that formed the entrance to the museum's new underground section. The pyramid has since become a Parisian landmark. In 1990, Pei retired from active management of his firm.

See biographical study by C. Wiseman (1990); biography by M. Cannell (1995).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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