Even if you’ve never seen a photo of I.M. Pei or even heard his name, you know of his work. The celebrated architect was the brains behind many of our world’s most impressive structures, from The Louvre pyramid in Paris and Qatar's Islamic Museum of Art to the Suzhou Museum in China and the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Pei’s legacy reaches many corners of the world.
The 1983 Pritzker Prize winner—an honor given to architects whose work displays talent, vision, and commitment—worked late into his life, completing the Museum of Islamic Art in 2008 while he was in his late 80s. It’s clear through Pei’s work how focused he was on shining a spotlight onto cultural hubs, but he also played an important role in educating others, specifically by using his $100,000 Pritzker Prize money to create a scholarship for Chinese students to come study architecture in America, as he once did at MIT and Harvard.
Pei’s buildings are not only important because of how far-reaching their locations are, but also for his style and creative mixture of building materials. The architect’s work is often characterized by a combination of concrete, glass, and steel morphed into shapes that mimic Cubism art, inspired by Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. They truly are a sight to take in.
Pei’s son Li Chung Pei, also an architecture, confirmed that his father passed away at home shortly after celebrating his birthday with a family dinner. According to the obituary in The New York Times, Pei wanted to create design that would “stand the test of time.” It’s safe to say he accomplished that and so much more.