I.M. Pei, architect who designed Louvre Pyramid, dies at 102

Chinese American architect I.M. Pei smiles as he accepts the Lifetime Achievement award during the 2016 Asia Game Changer Awards ceremony, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in New York. The award, created in 2014 by the Asia Society, honors leaders who are making a positive contribution to the future of Asia. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei smiles as he accepts the Lifetime Achievement award during the 2016 Asia Game Changer Awards ceremony, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) (AP/Mary Altaffer)
The National Gallery of Art East Building in Washington is seen Sunday, May 3, 1998. Planners are predicting the opening of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, which was dedicated Tuesday, May 5, 1998, will be part of a new look for the nation's capital in the new millennium, featuring daring design and a revived inner city. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
File – The National Gallery of Art East Building in Washington is seen Sunday, May 3, 1998. Planners are predicting the opening of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, which was dedicated Tuesday, May 5, 1998, will be part of a new look for the nation’s capital in the new millennium, featuring daring design and a revived inner city. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/WILFREDO LEE)
(AP/Anonymous)
PARIS - AUGUST 24:  The Pyramide of the Louvre museum designed by I.M. Pei is seen on August 24, 2005 in Paris, France. Dan Brown is the author of numerous  bestsellers, including Digital Fortress, Angels and Demons, and Deception Point. His acclaimed novel "The Da Vinci Code"has become one of the most widely read books of all time.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
The Pyramide of the Louvre museum designed by I.M. Pei is seen on August 24, 2005 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Pascal Le Segretain)
FILE - In this March 29, 1989, file photo, Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei laughs while posing for a portrait in front of the Louvre glass pyramid, which he designed, in the museum's Napoleon Courtyard, prior to its inauguration in Paris. Pei, the globe-trotting architect who revived the Louvre museum in Paris with a giant glass pyramid and captured the spirit of rebellion at the multi-shaped Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has died at age 102, a spokesman confirmed Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Pierre Gleizes, File)
FILE – In this March 29, 1989, file photo, Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei laughs while posing for a portrait in front of the Louvre glass pyramid, which he designed, in the museum’s Napoleon Courtyard, prior to its inauguration in Paris. (AP Photo/Pierre Gleizes, File) (AP/Pierre Gleizes)
HONG KONG 1997 PHOTO PACKAGE GENERAL VIEW -Third of 8- The Victoria Harbor skyline is illuminated by commercial buildings along the waterfront of Hong Kong Island. The Bank of China building, center, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei to look like an angular bamboo shoot, was completed in 1989. It is one of Hong Kong's most recognized landmarks and a symbol of China's strong economic stake in the territory. Picture taken on Saturday, Sept. 7, 1996. (AP Photo/Anat Givon)
The Victoria Harbor skyline is illuminated by commercial buildings along the waterfront of Hong Kong Island. The Bank of China building, center, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei to look like an angular bamboo shoot, was completed in 1989. (AP Photo/Anat Givon) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/ANAT GIVON)
FILE – This April 24, 2016, file photo shows the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, located on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland. Architect I.M. Pei designed the museum's futuristic building. Cleveland is hosting the Republican National Convention from Monday through Thursday, July 18 to 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File)
FILE – This April 24, 2016, file photo shows the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, located on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland. Architect I.M. Pei designed the museum’s futuristic building. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File) (AP/Beth J. Harpaz)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 14:  The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, designed by architect I.M. Pei, is seen on November 14, 2003 in Boston, Massachusetts.  The library is featuring a new exhibit, "Gifts From the World to the White House:  Caroline Kennedy's Doll Collection (1961-63)," which opened November 13 and runs through April 30, 2004, featuring gifts given by dignitaries from around the world to Caroline, who was three years old when her father became president of the United States in 1961. (Photo by Michael Springer/Getty Images)
The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, designed by architect I.M. Pei, is seen on November 14, 2003 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Michael Springer/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Michael Springer)
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, the globe-trotting architect who revived the Louvre museum in Paris with a giant glass pyramid and captured the spirit of rebellion at the multi-shaped Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has died at age 102, a spokesman confirmed Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
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. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) (AP/Steven Senne)
An unidentified woman walks up the spiral stairway of the new part of the German Historic Museum in Berlin, Friday, Feb. 28, 2003. The new edition to the museum, was built by American Architect I.M. Pei. (AP Photo/Franka Bruns)
An unidentified woman walks up the spiral stairway of the new part of the German Historic Museum in Berlin, Friday, Feb. 28, 2003. The new edition to the museum, was built by American Architect I.M. Pei. (AP Photo/Franka Bruns) (Associated Press/FRANKA BRUNS)
The architecture of the new Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, seenl  Wednesday, April 1, 2009. Qatar's new Islamic art museum, designed by the famous Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, is the latest effort by this tiny, oil-rich nation to compete with rival Gulf countries for international attention and investment. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
The architecture of the new Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, seen Wednesday, April 1, 2009. Qatar’s Islamic art museum was designed by the famous Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Hassan Ammar)
I.M. Pei poses in his office in office in New York, October 28, 1981. The American architect of Chinese descent has designed such structures as the Boston John Hancock Tower and the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester Mass.. The quiet, unassuming architect has been compared to Metternich, the Austrian diplomat whose talents made him the architect of political power in post-Napoleonic Europe. "The human condition is very important to me and architectur reflects the human condition", Pei states. (AP Photo/M. Reichenthal)
I.M. Pei poses in his office in office in New York, October 28, 1981. The American architect of Chinese descent has designed such structures as the Boston John Hancock Tower and the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester Mass. The quiet, unassuming architect has been compared to Metternich, the Austrian diplomat whose talents made him the architect of political power in post-Napoleonic Europe. “The human condition is very important to me and architecture reflects the human condition,” Pei states. (AP Photo/M. Reichenthal) (AP/M. REICHENTHAL)
Chinese workers put on the finishing touch on a rockery inside the lobby of Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing, China on October 9, 1982, designed by the noted American architect, I.M. Pei, who will preview the hotel next week with visitor Jacqueline Onassis.  (AP Photo/Heung Shing Liu)
Chinese workers put on the finishing touch on a rockery inside the lobby of Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing, China on October 9, 1982, designed by the noted American architect I.M. Pei. (AP Photo/Heung Shing Liu) (AP/HEUNG SHING LIU)
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Chinese American architect I.M. Pei smiles as he accepts the Lifetime Achievement award during the 2016 Asia Game Changer Awards ceremony, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in New York. The award, created in 2014 by the Asia Society, honors leaders who are making a positive contribution to the future of Asia. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
The National Gallery of Art East Building in Washington is seen Sunday, May 3, 1998. Planners are predicting the opening of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, which was dedicated Tuesday, May 5, 1998, will be part of a new look for the nation's capital in the new millennium, featuring daring design and a revived inner city. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
PARIS - AUGUST 24:  The Pyramide of the Louvre museum designed by I.M. Pei is seen on August 24, 2005 in Paris, France. Dan Brown is the author of numerous  bestsellers, including Digital Fortress, Angels and Demons, and Deception Point. His acclaimed novel "The Da Vinci Code"has become one of the most widely read books of all time.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
FILE - In this March 29, 1989, file photo, Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei laughs while posing for a portrait in front of the Louvre glass pyramid, which he designed, in the museum's Napoleon Courtyard, prior to its inauguration in Paris. Pei, the globe-trotting architect who revived the Louvre museum in Paris with a giant glass pyramid and captured the spirit of rebellion at the multi-shaped Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has died at age 102, a spokesman confirmed Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Pierre Gleizes, File)
HONG KONG 1997 PHOTO PACKAGE GENERAL VIEW -Third of 8- The Victoria Harbor skyline is illuminated by commercial buildings along the waterfront of Hong Kong Island. The Bank of China building, center, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei to look like an angular bamboo shoot, was completed in 1989. It is one of Hong Kong's most recognized landmarks and a symbol of China's strong economic stake in the territory. Picture taken on Saturday, Sept. 7, 1996. (AP Photo/Anat Givon)
FILE – This April 24, 2016, file photo shows the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, located on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland. Architect I.M. Pei designed the museum's futuristic building. Cleveland is hosting the Republican National Convention from Monday through Thursday, July 18 to 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 14:  The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, designed by architect I.M. Pei, is seen on November 14, 2003 in Boston, Massachusetts.  The library is featuring a new exhibit, "Gifts From the World to the White House:  Caroline Kennedy's Doll Collection (1961-63)," which opened November 13 and runs through April 30, 2004, featuring gifts given by dignitaries from around the world to Caroline, who was three years old when her father became president of the United States in 1961. (Photo by Michael Springer/Getty Images)
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, the globe-trotting architect who revived the Louvre museum in Paris with a giant glass pyramid and captured the spirit of rebellion at the multi-shaped Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has died at age 102, a spokesman confirmed Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
An unidentified woman walks up the spiral stairway of the new part of the German Historic Museum in Berlin, Friday, Feb. 28, 2003. The new edition to the museum, was built by American Architect I.M. Pei. (AP Photo/Franka Bruns)
The architecture of the new Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, seenl  Wednesday, April 1, 2009. Qatar's new Islamic art museum, designed by the famous Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, is the latest effort by this tiny, oil-rich nation to compete with rival Gulf countries for international attention and investment. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
I.M. Pei poses in his office in office in New York, October 28, 1981. The American architect of Chinese descent has designed such structures as the Boston John Hancock Tower and the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester Mass.. The quiet, unassuming architect has been compared to Metternich, the Austrian diplomat whose talents made him the architect of political power in post-Napoleonic Europe. "The human condition is very important to me and architectur reflects the human condition", Pei states. (AP Photo/M. Reichenthal)
Chinese workers put on the finishing touch on a rockery inside the lobby of Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing, China on October 9, 1982, designed by the noted American architect, I.M. Pei, who will preview the hotel next week with visitor Jacqueline Onassis.  (AP Photo/Heung Shing Liu)

NEW YORK (AP) — I.M. Pei (PAY), the versatile, globe-trotting architect who revived the Louvre with a giant glass pyramid and captured the spirit of rebellion at the multi-shaped Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has died at age 102.

Pei’s death was confirmed Thursday by Marc Diamond, a spokesman for the architect’s New York firm, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. One of Pei’s sons, Li Chung Pei, told The New York Times his father had died overnight.

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.

His buildings added elegance to landscapes worldwide with their powerful geometric shapes and grand spaces. Among them are the striking steel and glass Bank of China skyscraper in Hong Kong and the Fragrant Hill Hotel near Beijing.

His work spanned decades, starting in the late 1940s and continuing through the new millennium. Two of his last major projects, the Museum of Islamic Art, located on an artificial island just off the waterfront in Doha, Qatar, and the Macau Science Center, in China, opened in 2008 and 2009.

Pei painstakingly researched each project, studying its use and relating it to the environment. But he also was interested in architecture as art — and the effect he could create.

“At one level my goal is simply to give people pleasure in being in a space and walking around it,” he said. “But I also think architecture can reach a level where it influences people to want to do something more with their lives. That is the challenge that I find most interesting.”

Pei, who as a schoolboy in Shanghai was inspired by its building boom in the 1930s, immigrated to the United States and studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He advanced from his early work of designing office buildings, low-income housing and mixed-used complexes to a worldwide collection of museums, municipal buildings and hotels.

He fell into a modernist style blending elegance and technology, creating crisp, precise buildings.

His big break was in 1964, when he was chosen over many prestigious architects, such as Louis Kahn and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, to design the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston.

At the time, Jacqueline Kennedy said all the candidates were excellent, “But Pei! He loves things to be beautiful.” The two became friends.

A slight, unpretentious man, Pei developed a reputation as a skilled diplomat, persuading clients to spend the money for his grand-scale projects and working with a cast of engineers and developers.

Some of his designs were met with much controversy, such as the 71-foot (22-meter) faceted glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre museum in Paris. French President Francois Mitterrand, who personally selected Pei to oversee the decaying, overcrowded museum’s renovation, endured a barrage of criticism when he unveiled the plan in 1984.

Many of the French vehemently opposed such a change to their symbol of their culture, once a medieval fortress and then a national palace. Some resented that Pei, a foreigner, was in charge.

But Mitterrand and his supporters prevailed and the pyramid was finished in 1989. It serves as the Louvre’s entrance, and a staircase leads visitors down to a vast, light-drenched lobby featuring ticket windows, shops, restaurants, an auditorium and escalators to other parts of the vast museum.

“All through the centuries, the Louvre has undergone violent change,” Pei said. “The time had to be right. I was confident because this was the right time.”

Another building designed by Pei’s firm — the John Hancock Tower in Boston — had a questionable future in the early 1970s when dozens of windows cracked and popped out, sending glass crashing to the sidewalks, during the time the building was under construction.

A flurry of lawsuits followed among the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co., the glass manufacturer, and Pei’s firm. A settlement was reached in 1981.

No challenge seemed to be too great for Pei, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which sits on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Pei, who admitted he was just catching up with the Beatles, researched the roots of rock ‘n’ roll and came up with an array of contrasting shapes for the museum. He topped it off with a transparent tent-like structure, which was “open — like the music,” he said.

In 1988, President Reagan honored him with a National Medal of Arts. He also won the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, 1983, and the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, 1979. President George H.W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992.

Pei officially retired in 1990 but continued to work on projects. Two of his sons, Li Chung Pei and Chien Chung Pei, former members of their father’s firm, formed Pei Partnership Architects in 1992. Their father’s firm, previously I.M. Pei and Partners, was renamed Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

The museum in Qatar that opened in 2008 was inspired by Islamic architectural history, especially the 9th century mosque of Ahmed ibn Tulun in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. It was established by the tiny, oil-rich nation to compete with rival Persian Gulf countries for international attention and investment.

Ieoh Ming Pei (YEE-oh ming) was born April 26, 1917, in Canton, China, the son of a banker. He later said, “I did not know what architecture really was in China. At that time, there was no difference between an architect, a construction man, or an engineer.”

Pei came to the United States in 1935 with plans to study architecture, then return to practice in China. However, World War II and the revolution in China prevented him from coming back.

During the war, Pei worked for the National Defense Research Committee. As an “expert” in Japanese construction, his job was to determine the best way to burn down Japanese towns. “It was awful,” he later said.

In 1948, New York City real estate developer William Zeckendorf hired Pei as his director of architecture. During this period, Pei worked on many large urban projects and gained experience in areas of building development, economics and construction.

Some of his early successes included the Mile High Center office building in Denver, the Kips Bay Plaza Apartments in Manhattan, and the Society Hill apartment complex in Philadelphia.

Pei established his own architectural firm in 1955, a year after he became a U.S. citizen. He remained based in New York City. Among the firm’s accomplishments are the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Pei’s wife, Eileen, who he married in 1942, died in 2014. A son, T’ing Chung, died in 2003. Besides sons Chien Chung Pei and Li Chung Pei, he is survived by a daughter, Liane.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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