Profile of I.M. Pei

Date Of Birth:
26 April 1917
Place Of Birth:
Canton, China
Best Known As:
The designer of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Name at birth: Ieoh Ming Pei

I.M. Pei is a Chinese-born American architect whose Modernist work has won him top honors in his field since the 1960s. Most Americans know him as the designer of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. The son of a prominent banker, I.M. Pei grew up in Canton, China, and at the age of 17 he went to the United States to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He graduated in 1940, then studied at Harvard with Walter Gropius. After taking time off from studies to work for the National Defense Research Committee -- on World War II weapons technology for the U.S. -- Pei returned to Harvard as a faculty member in 1945 and earned his graduate degree in 1946. By 1955 he'd become a naturalized U.S. citizen and had started his own architectural firm. He first gained international recognition in the 1960s, for his design of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, a structure that used modern elements in a natural setting. Since then, I.M. Pei has won just about every architectural award there is, and his list of famous buildings is long and impressive. His work includes the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Bank of China in Hong Kong. His 1988 design for the Grand Louvre in Paris, an underground labyrinth topped by a glass pyramid, originally caused outrage for its modernism, but the controversy died long ago. His long career and high profile projects have made Pei one of the best-known architects in the world.