I.M.Pei, creator of some of the world’s most recognized works of architecture, celebrates his 99th birthday today.
To honor that milestone, here’s an image of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, my favorite Pei-designed buildings –of those that I’ve seen. I’ve posted about the museum before here and here, and if it looks familiar to you, it’s because I’ve used the image before, but never as a Pic du Jour, so please allow me this indulgence.
The first two of his creations that I witnessed –the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston and the National Gallery of Art East Building in Washington DC– simply blew me away. The way he flooded some of his buildings with natural light and built others with massive minimalist building blocks changed forever how I looked at and observed any structure.
I spent the summer of 1987 in Washington watching and writing about the Iran-Contra Hearings and visited the East Building, mostly to unwind and clear my head, more often than any other building. It’s still my favorite spot in the US capital. [Here’s info about a past exhibition on the building’s conception.]
I’ve seen a handful of others: the Erieview Tower in Cleveland, Ohio, my hometown; The Louvre Pyramids in Paris; and below, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, also located in Cleveland.
As with many of this buildings, Pei wasn’t happy with the result and his dissatisfaction with the Rock Hall organization wasn’t a secret. But Clevelanders, and the vast majority of those who visit, are generally very pleased.
Pei was born in Guangzhou, China in 1917, the son of a prominent banker. He moved to New York to study architecture and established his first architectural firm in 1955.