I.M. Pei (1917-2019)
I remember very specifically the first time that I saw a work by I.M. Pei. It was July 1989. France. I was 14 years old. It was my first time overseas, and I was staying just outside of Versailles with a family that encouraged their son (just a year older than me) to show me around Paris. Of course, the Louvre was an essential destination.
A few months before I arrived in France, the courtyard of the Louvre had been transformed by I.M. Pei’s famed (and infamous) pyramid—compared at the time to the Eiffel Tower in both its ambition and its ability to stir controversy.
As a teenager, I knew absolutely nothing about architecture. But, I knew that I really loved Pei’s pyramid. There was just something about the juxtaposition of the early modern and the modern.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate to visit a number of I.M. Pei’s buildings, including the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library (1971) that he designed for Columbus, IN—just a short hop down the highway from where I currently live.
I.M. Pei passed away today, but his work—and that of his firm—continues to live and inspire. A substantive obituary that summarizes his work was published by the New York Times.