Pei dies at 102

I.M. Pei, renowned architect who left his mark on Denver, dies at 102

Suzhou Museum, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, in Suzhou in China's eastern Jiangsu province.

His New York-based practice, established in 1955 as I. M. Pei and Associates, has built projects across the USA and in more than 30 countries internationally, including two in Australia.

Pei's death was confirmed on Thursday by Marc Diamond, a spokesman for the architect's NY firm, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

The New York Times reports Pei initially turned down the job to design the Rock Hall, but when he changed his mind, he reportedly prepared for it by traveling to rock concerts with the publisher of Rolling Stone.

Pei was also known for his work on many other buildings including the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris.

Pei's works ranged from the trapezoidal addition to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to the chiseled towers of the National Center of Atmospheric Research that blend in with the reddish mountains in Boulder, Colorado.

FILE - This Aug. 19, 2009, file photo shows the entrance of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, designed by architect I.M. Pei, in Boston.

Pei's works added elegance to landscapes worldwide with their powerful geometric shapes and grand spaces, seen as embracing modernity tempered by a grounding in history.

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However, World War II and the revolution in China prevented him from going back.

Soon thereafter, officials asked Pei to design a modern high-rise hotel in central Beijing - an aspirational gesture for the then-impoverished nation. Sunning Plaza in Hong Kong was demolished in 2013, Terminal 6, the Sundrome of New York's JFK International Airport was pulled down in 2011, and the 102-story, nuclear bomb-resistant Grand Central replacement, the Hyperboloid, never got off the ground (but was later immortalized in Never Built New York). He said that when you ask visitors why they are at the Louvre, they generally give three answers: for the Mona Lisa, for the Venus de Milo and for the Pyramid.

"I received many angry glances in the streets of Paris", Pei later said, confessing that "after the Louvre, I thought no project would be too hard". "I was confident because this was the right time".

Two of his sons, Li Chung Pei and Chien Chung Pei, former members of their father's firm, formed Pei Partnership Architects in 1992. He topped it off with a transparent tent-like structure, which was "open - like the music", he said.

United States president George Bush awarded Pei the Medal of Freedom that same year, when he was also elected an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Pei's father was a banker, his mother an artist.

Pei worked designing buildings across the country and taking his own commissions, including the Luce Memorial Chapel in Taiwan and the Green Earth Sciences building at MIT until 1960, when he launched his own independent firm, I.M. Pei and Associates. He remained based in New York City.

Tributes have been pouring in for architect IM Pei who has died at the age of 102. Eileen Pei died in June 2014.

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