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The late I.M. Pei is an iconic figure in the world of architecture. During his lifetime, Pei designed many buildings that have been frequently termed architectural wonders. Passing away in May of 2019 at the age of 102, Pei left a legacy of quality, controversy and uniqueness across the world through the design of his buildings. Pei is known for his modernist style and use of geometric shapes in many of his designs.
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He has designed numerous minimalist skyscrapers, ranging from the Kips Bay Towers in New York to the John Hancock Tower in Boston, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Pei won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, arguably the architecture world’s highest honor, in 1983. Here are some of the best places to visit, in order to see the beauty and magnitude of Pei’s work.
This opportunity for entrance into the Louvre couples the natural beauty of Paris with the stunning work and vision of Pei.
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THE PYRAMID AT THE LOUVRE | Paris, France
This metal and glass pyramid at The Louvre was created in 1989, and currently serves as the main museum entrance. Surrounded by three pyramids which are smaller, the entire structure was commissioned in 1984 by France’s President François Mitterrand. The pyramid is a breathtaking example of Pei’s visionary work, but it also serves an important purpose to manage significant guest flow and create a sense for what is to be seen in one of the world’s greatest museums. The juxtaposition of the modern design against the centuries-old French architecture is refreshing and innovative, indicating a modern-day relevance to the works inside. The pyramid sets the tone for the museum and is artwork itself, with its natural skylight providing daylight as you enter the museum. This opportunity for entrance into the Louvre couples the natural beauty of Paris with the stunning work and vision of Pei.
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NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART | Washington, D.C.
Debuted in 1978, The East Wing of the National Gallery of Art is a humble, modern structure consisting of two intersecting triangles joined by an atrium, differing from other neoclassical, ornamental Washington, D.C. buildings. The building is a trapezoid that was sliced in two to divide the structure into a public museum and a study center. The structure is connected to the West Wing of the National Gallery by an underground passage.
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BANK OF CHINA TOWER | Hong Kong, China
This asymmetrical tower in Hong Kong profoundly changed the skyline of the city with more than 130,000 meters of vertical office space for the Bank of China. It is a noticeable and stunning complement to the city’s skyline, and an acknowledgement of Pei’s vision for his architectural creations. While it’s an architectural marvel, its form and function make it a work of art used every day.
At the time Pei began work on the project, he had a budget of only $130 million. Using his knowledge of architecture and his contacts in the industry, he found a way to make an amazing creation on a budget that would not have been possible for many other architects. The Bank of China Tower stands as a testament to everything Pei saw in his vision and his sincerity in creating that vision for others to use and appreciate.
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MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART| Doha, Qatar
Visitors to Doha, Qatar will want to stop and take time to see the Museum of Islamic Art. Ceramics, manuscripts, textiles and much more can all be found in this educational project. The 7th through the 19th Centuries are represented, and Pei took his inspiration for the building from Egypt’s Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun. An examination of the building’s design shows the vision Pei had when he saw the Egyptian mosque.
When visiting the museum in Qatar, the sand-colored building and unique, stacked look speak to the Egyptian pyramids and the ancient buildings that still stand in that country. It is clear that Pei saw something beautiful and striking in Egypt, and wanted to bring a sense of that to Qatar while adding a more modern twist that could be appreciated for years to come.
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MIHO MUSEUM | Kyoto, Japan
Much of the uniqueness of the Miho Museum comes from the fact that it is carved into a mountain. Metal, glass, and natural stone blend together to make an amazing building. This museum is home to more than 2,000 antiques that come from both Western and Asian cultures, with a collection belonging to Mihoko Koyama. The pyramid shapes in the ceiling and on some of the walls speak to the style of the pyramid at the Louvre and other structures, tying in what Pei created here with what he has done in other locations throughout the world. Pei was a visionary and an artist, both of which come through in his choice of architectural design elements.
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L’ENFANT PLAZA HOTEL | Washington, DC
Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., and close to Benjamin Park, the National Mall, and other tourist destinations, sits the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel. This hotel was among the first of Pei’s major projects, and its iconic beauty and value have stood the test of time. L’Enfant is a short walk from the Smithsonian Museums. Additionally, the lovely decor in the hotel itself and its unique design stand out as providing a quality experience for anyone traveling through the area. Experiencing the hotel can be an excellent way to take in more of what Pei wanted to share with the world.