I.M. Pei, Architect Behind the Louvre Pyramid, Dies At 102

The architect known for his somewhat controversial design of the Louvre was one of the most famous architects of the 20th Century.

IM Pei, the architect behind the controversial renovation of Paris’ Louvre Museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, has died at 102 years old.  His death was confirmed by a spokesman at Pei’s New York architecture firm to the Associated Press.

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An architect from China

I.M. Pei's full name was Ieoh Ming Pei. Born in Suzhou, China, in 1917, Pei moved to the US to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard in 1935.

In his first years after his degree, he taught and worked for the US government. Eventually, in 1948 he went to work for a New York developer. Ambitiously, he started his own firm in 1955.

His designs made him famous but they weren't always well received at first. When he first designed the Louvre's pyramid it came with quite some controversy.

A project from hell

"I would say the first year and a half was really hell," the architect said in a PBS documentary. "I couldn't walk the streets of Paris without people walking looking at me and saying, There you go again. What are you doing here? What are you doing to us? What are you doing to our great Louvre?"

Today, the structure is one of the main attractions of the museum. Pei credits it as one of the most difficult projects of his career.

“Contemporary architects tend to impose modernity on something,” he said in a New York Times interview in 2008. “There is a certain concern for history but it’s not very deep. I understand that time has changed, we have evolved. But I don’t want to forget the beginning. A lasting architecture has to have roots.”

The architectural projects that Pei undertook around the world showed reverence for light and often included glass pyramids. Some other of his most notable work includes the John F Kennedy Library in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Dallas City Hall and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

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