Ieoh Ming Pei, known as I. M. Pei, died today at the age of 102, according to The New York Times.
The Chinese-American architect (born April 26, 1917) was arguably the greatest living member of the modernist generation of architects. When he received his Pritzker Prize in 1983, the jury citation stated that he "has given this century some of its most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms." His most notable work is the Louvre Pyramid.
Born in Suzhou, China, I.M. Pei grew up in Hong Kong and Shanghai before moving to the United States to study architecture. He received his Bachelor's degree in 1940, when the second Sino-Japanese War forced him to abandon his plans to return to his home country - in the end, a fortuitous event for the young architect, as it allowed him to discover the Graduate School of Design at Harvard, where Pei worked with Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer.
Pei founded his own practice in 1955, then known as I.M. Pei & Associates (but later changing its name to Pei & Partners in 1966 and finally to Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in 1989). In its six-decade history, the firm's most well-known work is likely his crystalline extension to the Louvre in Paris; other highly influential works include the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the JFK Presidential Library in Boston. In 1990, Pei retired from full-time practice, progressively reducing his workload over the following decades.
Though known as a modernist, and notable for his forms based upon arrangements of simple geometric shapes such as triangles, circles, and squares, Pei has rejected the implications of globalism inherent in the "International Style," instead advocating contextual development and variation in style. He has commented that "the important distinction is between a stylistic approach to the design; and an analytical approach giving the process of due consideration to time, place, and purpose." On a trip to China in 1974, he even urged Chinese architects to look more to their architectural tradition, rather than designing in a Western style.