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I. M. Pei
in Luxembourg, 2006
Native name 貝聿銘
Born (1917-04-26) 26 April 1917 (age 101)
Kwangchou, Canton, China
Citizenship United States
Occupation Architect
Eileen Loo
(m. 1942; d. 2014)
Children 4
Awards Royal Gold Medal
AIA Gold Medal
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Pritzker Prize
Praemium Imperiale
Practice I. M. Pei & Associates 1955–
I. M. Pei & Partners 1966–
Pei Cobb Freed & Partners 1989–
Pei Partnership Architects (Consultant) 1992–
Buildings John F. Kennedy Library, Boston
National Gallery of Art East Building
Louvre Pyramid, Paris
Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
Indiana University Art Museum
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Ieoh Ming Pei, FAIA, RIBA[1] (born 26 April 1917), commonly known as I. M. Pei, is a Chinese American architect. Born in Kwangchou and raised in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Pei drew inspiration at an early age from the gardens at Soochow. In 1935, he moved to the United States and enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania's architecture school, but quickly transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was unhappy with the focus at both schools on Beaux-Arts architecture, and spent his free time researching emerging architects, especially Le Corbusier. After graduating, he joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and became a friend of the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. In 1948, Pei was recruited by New York City real estate magnate William Zeckendorf, for whom he worked for seven years before establishing his own independent design firm I. M. Pei & Associates in 1955, which became I. M. Pei & Partners in 1966 and later in 1989 became Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Pei retired from full-time practice in 1990. Since then, he has taken on work as an architectural consultant primarily from his sons' architectural firm Pei Partnership Architects.

Pei's first major recognition came with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado (designed in 1961, and completed in 1967). His new stature led to his selection as chief architect for the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts. He went on to design Dallas City Hall and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. He returned to China for the first time in 1975 to design a hotel at Fragrant Hills, and designed Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, a skyscraper in Hong Kong for the Bank of China fifteen years later. In the early 1980s, Pei was the focus of controversy when he designed a glass-and-steel pyramid for the Musée du Louvre in Paris. He later returned to the world of the arts by designing the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, the Miho Museum in Japan, the Suzhou Museum in Suzhou, Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, and the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art, abbreviated to Mudam, in Luxembourg.

Pei has won a wide variety of prizes and awards in the field of architecture, including the AIA Gold Medal in 1979, the first Praemium Imperiale for Architecture in 1989, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2003. In 1983, he won the Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture.

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  • Wheelwright Prize Lecture: Anna Puigjaner, “Kitchen Stories”
  • Rethinking Pei: A Centenary Symposium, Panel 3: Power, Capital, and People
  • Rethinking Pei: A Centenary Symposium, Panel 2: Spatial and Formal Practices I
  • 2016 Wheelwright Prize Finalist Presentations
  • Michael Bierut: "How to use graphic design" | Talks at Google


Good evening. I take great pleasure to welcome tonight's speaker, Anna Puigjaner. Anna's an architect, editor, researcher, curator, mostly traveler. When she lights, she is also co-founder of a studio in Barcelona called MAIO. Anna's spent a lot of time imagining a future in which housing is more specifically suited to the different needs of its inhabitants, and especially the idea that sometimes that means not having a kitchen. Her project that she entitled Kitchenless, received the Wheelwright Prize in 2016, with an endowment of $100,000 for research. And that's the reason she's never at home. Researching internationally existing models of communal habitation. Let me say a little bit about the Wheelwright Prize. It originated at Harvard, in the Department of Architecture, as the Arthur C Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship. Now, the title is important. This is 1935. It was basically conceptualized on the model of the Beaux-Arts Grand Tour, of the European Grand Tour, where, no matter what your education, no matter where your education, you couldn't be a properly educated architect until you had gone to Rome, Greece, and seen all the ancient monuments. And the prize, of course, was 1935, was a time when Americans, very few Americans, traveled internationally. And it was explicitly in order to make that travel possible. I'll just mention a few of the early fellows. Paul Rudolph, Elliot Noyses, William Worcester, IM Pei. There are many of that caliber. In 2013, Mohsen Mostafavi opened the prize to early career architects worldwide. Previously, it had been only Harvard alums. Now the rule is, the sole eligibility requirement is that applicants must have received a professionally accredited architecture degree in the previous 15 years. I'm just saying, many eligible people in the room. As I said, though, when Anna won the prize, it set her off on a travel schedule that I will let her tell and talk about tonight. When she does, every now and then, light like a flying bird, her work has been published, and MAIO's work has been published in magazines like DOMUS, Plot, Frame, DETAIL. The work was exhibited in the Venice Biennale, in the Chicago Architectural Biennial. It's been exhibited at storefront and other locations. She's taught many, many places. The firm, MAIO, is in Barcelona, in the Gracia-- it's called that, yeah?-- District. Well, I don't know if you have time to show it. It's a very interesting district. It started in the time right when she won the prize. They had taken on workers from other businesses to make a collective partly, if I understand for economic reasons, partly for theoretical reasons, let's say. By 2016, when they could actually afford to now have a studio alone, they actually decided that they were no longer compelled to have a studio alone. So already this idea of cooperation is a kind of kitchenless office in its own way. Welcome, Anna Puigjaner. Thank you very much, Michael, for such nice introduction. And thank you everyone for being here tonight. As you may imagine, tonight is quite a special moment for me, because I'm closing two years of traveling that have been quite intense. So two years ago, when I received the call about the Wheelwright Prize, Mohsen Mostafavi mentioned that I was going to be a life-- that it was going to be a life changing thing. And he couldn't have been righter. These last two years have been probably the most intense ones in my life, having a strong impact in both the professional and the personal level. So I cannot be more thankful to the jury, that at that moment two years ago considered my proposal of value, and that they have offered me this opportunity. So thank you, Mohsen Mostafavi, Michael Hays, Eva Franch, Jeannie Kim, Kiel Moe, Rafael Moneo, and Benjamin Prosky. And of course, thanks to Harvard GSD and the Arthur Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship itself. Tonight, as you will see, we will see a lot of kitchens and a lot of food. So my apologies, if you haven't had dinner. Because that's what mainly I've been doing for the last two years. But before going to the cooking world, let me introduce the origins and aim of this research. When Rem Koolhaas published his famous book, Delirious New York, in 1978 40 years ago, he pictured a city in New York defined by a set of big buildings on a grid. The famous grid created in 1811, thanks to the Commissioners' Plans that was actually showed inside the flap of the book. In Koolhaas' imaginary, buildings enclose as envelopes a whole world in themselves. And the [inaudible] is just the base that allows those extraordinary worlds to happen. In fact, several projects developed by Koolhaas and his colleagues at OMA appear in the book. Among others, this one, the City of the Captive Globe project, that shows, again, the [inaudible] uniform grid that supports a set of buildings representing a beautiful catalog of OMA self-proclaimed influences. As, for instance, we can see here, there is Le Corbu, Lissitzky, over here. So they saw New York as an incubator that holds an extraordinary set of reference, extraordinary pieces as a collection. A type of world, a type of reality, where the building, specifically the skyscraper, defines the protagonist to the point that it is treated as [inaudible] shown as characters, as persons themselves, as people themselves. Sorry. So like everyone, I got fascinated by these extraordinary collections of skyscrapers, and especially captured my attention the Waldorf-Astoria, especially because the Waldorf-Astoria holds a set of apartments that lack of kitchens. So around 10 years ago, I started researching about them. I was fascinated, as Koolhaas was, with all the stories. You see the kitchenless floor open. With all the stories embedded in that building. The people that live in it, its type of organization, its structure. It was kind of a gossiping thing, also a bit vicious. To my surprise, when I try to understand the origin of this kitchenless typology. I discovered that New York was filled-- I discovered that New York was filled at that time by similar apartments, that the Waldorf-Astoria was extraordinary because it was extremely luxurious, but that actually that typology, the life without kitchens, and to have all those services instead, it was quite ordinary, quite common. There was a time in New York when the house was understood as an open system. It was designed not as a single entity, but as a set of connected fragments, that could change depending on the need. So it was systemic. The space was flexible and adaptable [inaudible],, and expanded also by means of collective rooms and domestic services. The kitchen was optional, as well as the rest of the rooms, and sometimes it was left apart, kitchenless. The story of this New York kitchenless typology dates back to the economic depression that followed the American Civil War in 1865. At that moment, new architectural solutions for the middle class appear, that not only reduce significantly the cost of living, but also allow the elimination of housekeeping annoyances. There were all kinds of apartments, and all kinds of sizes as well, all of them promoted by the private sector. And we could find small cases as this one, with two rooms and a bathroom, to extremely large ones, with two apartments per floor plan and no kitchen. Due to the commercial aim, it was highly appreciated that such buildings could offer not only a wider spectrum of shared spaces and shared services, but also flexible sized apartments. Not only to offer good services for the inhabitants, but also to satisfy a bigger demand and accommodate a wider social range. In New York, kitchenless houses-- I'm sorry. Sorry. So despite being promoted by the private sector, also these collective houses had quite a social role. Most of the rooms were open to the public, becoming true social condensers. So thanks to the externalization of the kitchen and other domestic spaces, the typology blurred the traditional limits between the public and the private sphere, between the domestic and the urban. And thanks to its flexibility and [? sharing, ?] it was able to shrink radically housekeeping cost, waste, and labor. So if Koolhaas saw New York as a city defined by big skyscrapers, for me, New York was a city, and is a city defined by a fragmented, flexible, and interconnected reality, where the kitchen played an important role to allow this flexibility to happen. And this way of looking at things is also a condition of our time, a way of seeing our closed reality from a contemporarily perspective. This image was captured by our attention years ago by the fact that the domestic scene and interior was placed in a provocative manner in the middle of the landscape, raising questions regarding the limits within inside and outside, questions regarding what domesticity meant at that time. Nowadays, this exact image struck us not only by that but also by the fact, by other things. So a decade ago, a family would still gather around the TV. Nowadays, not only has the image and identity of the family has radically changed, but also a new social reality is engaging with the atomization of devices and increasing demand on services. The TV has lost definitely its central space in the house. And therefore, it has modified behaviors and the way we use our homes and our cities at large. Now we not only watch TV in the living room. We watch TV in the bedroom, and even in the city itself, in the subway. Uses are superimposed, overlapping, and the way in which we use the space becomes increasingly more fragmented, as it happened in the 19th century in New York. More fragile, and also more ephemeral, but at the same time, more interconnected. So when two years ago, I proposed this project for the Wheelwright Prize, my intention, my initial intention was actually what I said. It was to turn visible the contemporary cases of collective kitchens, and through that to expose that shared kitchens have deeper political, economical circumstances. However, my interest on collective kitchens goes beyond that. As it happened in 19th century New York, I consider that the kitchen can be once again an architectural tool to transgress and redefine pre-established social and spatial conditions. Specifically, domestic conditions, of course, in relation to gender, labor, housekeeping, and waste. And that in order to answer to our contemporary network, ephemeral and mobile reality. In order to unveil this, during these last two years, I have done five travels, visiting eight countries, researching with a group of international, marvelous people-- they might be watching now-- that I have traveled with, and that have traveled with me, allowing me to understand better their culture and be super, super nice with me. So I really have to thank Laura [? campagne, ?] [? ada madiata, ?] [inaudible],, [inaudible],, Yuki Masamoto, [? gizem ?] Morales, [? nori ?] Artigosa, and Mikako Oshima. And of course, my partners at MAIO have allowed to do this. So thanks to Guillermo Lopez, Maria Charneco, and Alfredo Lerida. So alongside with these five travels to Senegal, Bangkok, Singapore, Montreal, Mexico, Tokyo, and China, and [inaudible] sorry, Lima, as so alongside with these travels, thanks to the visibility of the award, I have been invited to talk about the research in 26 places in the last two years. And I taught three workshops. So if you add all that to the sum of my trip, I was quite [? scared. ?] So it's like 170,000 miles. So it's like I did seven times the world tour. And yes, I'm tired. So I'm going to start with my last trip. 40 years ago in Lima, started a system of collective cooking that has been able during these last decades to not only reduce housekeeping costs, but also to provide access to food, as well as has been able to empower women in Peruvian society. Since its origin, these domestic organizations have been community political agencies that go beyond the act of cooking and eating. A radical system that blurs not only the limits between private and public, between family structures and domestic worlds, between labor and housekeeping, but also act as a place for neighborhood management, connected directly with municipal institutions and larger political agencies. The first collective canteens were born at the end of 1970s. So exactly around 1978, from grassroots movements. And it was a period in Lima of great social mobilization and politicization, that ultimately brought down the military regime. Between 1978 in 1979, the National Teachers Union, SUTEP, occupied local schools as they pressed for better wages. In solidarity with the strikers, women from the communities began to prepare collective pots, as they called it, of food to feed the strikers. For weeks, schools became places of political discussion about working conditions, housing, and communities. Many women who were leaving these collective pots participated in political meetings, which encouraged to them to start women's organizations focused on providing food for their families and communities in a wider sense. The first one appeared in Las Comas in El Agustino neighborhood, and used a group between 20 and 40 women with the aim to provide, as I was saying, food for the community on a daily basis. In front of the economic and social instability, these collective kitchens offered security and stability. So the typology expanded really fast. It not only happened in Lima, but happened and is still happening all over Peru. [inaudible] it expanded in the '80s, and their impact has been quite large. So suddenly they gained quite a political agency. What the started around a domestic space, a kitchen, gained autonomy and entity, to the point that their social relevance and, consequentially, political power was radically punished during the years of the terrorist group, the Shining Path. When many attacks happened against these women and against these collective kitchens, many of them were killed. And among them, I wanted to put her image. Among them, the activist Maria Elena Moyano, who was murdered in 1992 by the terrorist group, and provoked a huge social consternation due to that. Of course, I'm selecting Maria Elena Moyano because she was one of the leaders of the women groups, specifically the La Federacion Popular de Las Mujeres de Villa El Salvador, FEPOMUVES, that you will see that it comes afterwards in another story. So sorry. Excuse me. What is curious is actually that, despite the political imagination that has been raised during these last decades about these collective Kitchens being political, if you ask nowadays their members about their political agency, most of them, they're going to deny that. They are going to say they are quite apolitical. They consider themselves just a grassroots movement, that wants not to be linked with any political party. However, these radical acts that I was mentioning before prove that actually they're quite totally the opposite, quite political. And just by the fact that they have a strong social impact and have a strong social influence on Peruvian society. So after several governments and different state policies, comedores populares are still quite active in Lima, providing food to around 1 million people daily. And considering that, depending on the cases, you can tell that between half million and 1 million. But considering that the population of Lima is eight million a half, one million is quite a lot. And in comedores populares, there more than 100,000 women cooking daily for the community. So as I was mentioning, the phenomenon has not only happened in Lima, but has also happened in the whole of Peru. The government registered 16,461 collective kitchens in 2017. And actually, they confess that that might be the half of it. So just the half of the reality is under control of the government. For those that don't know Lima, let me explain a bit. So Lima is a hilly city. The so-called cerros, like these little [? mountains, ?] characterize the urban landscape, and are the areas where most of these kitchens are placed. Los cerros were and still are massively occupied after the 1950s, due to large migrations of rural population to the city. In 1960, the population of Lima was around two million. Nowadays, as I was mentioning, it's around 8 million a half. So the city expanded enormously during these last decades. And this population is settled in an informal manner, occupying the hills due to a lack of an infrastructure and urban planning. In one of the oldest settlements is placed one of the first collective canteen kitchens that is still working nowadays. Situated in El Augustino, [spanish] is a small infrastructure run by 15 women, which are self-organized and cook once a week, serving around 100 meals daily from Monday to Saturday. The cost of the meal is around 4 soles, 4 soles and a half. So to picture that, it's around half of the price of a regular daily menu. They can offer menus for such a low price thanks to a good wholesale organization and efficient collective cooking, reducing waste and [? consumes. ?] Around 50 of them, as I was mentioning, are under the control of the government. And they receive monthly nonperishable foods. Most of the Kitchens operate in a similar manner. And most of them, as this one, occupy-- as this one-- sorry-- occupy pre-existent houses. So they occupy domestic infrastructures, converting any private domestic space into a collective one for the welfare of the community. This actually was an old living room before. Just a few of them have been able to receive governmental help to raise up new buildings. Cases as this one, the [spanish] also in El Agustino. Or La Balanza placed in-- La Balanza, placed in Comas, are quite an exception. As you see, La Balanza, it's really well-designed. It was designed by Javier [? vera, ?] [? luciano ?] [? valez, ?] and [inaudible] among others. So there were architects involved. Apart from the kitchen, it incorporates other spaces for the community as a study room. As a study room, as well as a playground, and a room for [inaudible]. So La Balanza definitely has become a social condenser, and its [? important ?] to increase control and preserve the human quality of its actual context. So kitchens in La Balanza show us the relevance of the act, of the act of turning something domestic into something public, not only for the welfare of the community at large, but as I mentioned before, essential for the empowerment of women, which mostly lack enough access to essential things, as labor, education, nutrition, and social security, among other things, other basic needs. The lady in the picture is Marta Vera. Actually, apart from running this small store, she runs a small company with 30 employees that produce bread, boiled eggs, milks for public schools. They prepare around 11,000 servings a week. You have to imagine that when I arrived, I was looking for a company, like a big enterprise. And then I encountered these women behind those bars, and I asked for her, and she would answer, yes, here I am. And I was definitely shocked by the fact that behind that, she was there, the owner. And behind those bars, there's a huge company that produces all this food for the public schools. So the story of Marta Vera is quite interesting. She started cooking in a collective kitchen, as many other women. She did not finish her studies. And due to her economic situation, the kitchen offered her a solution to access to food and decreased cost, home cost. Thanks to the kitchen, she started to be involved in grassroots movements and political associations, becoming a leader of her association, and later allowing her to start her own baking business. Everything started in 1987, when US Agency for International Development-- so the US was involved-- started to ship wheat to Peru. So the US wheat was distributed through NGOs to the different collective kitchens. It emerged then the idea to start a system of bakeries that could produce bread for all of them. At the beginning, in 1990, there were 26 bakery businesses. But after USAID, [? usaid, ?] as they call it, stopped sending wheat, they were forced to change their economic business system. And progressively, without the aid, most of them had to close and disappear. It's quite interesting. Sorry. It's quite interesting, because nowadays, actually, the government of Peru is debating a regulation to encourage among these women to start their own businesses. And cases as this one show us how a shared kitchen can be also a place for economical production that goes beyond the act of baking, places that can turn and waste housekeeping labors into a wage [? won. ?] Influenced by the Lima case, the government of Mexico City initiated in 2009 a social program to relieve financial pressures that were put on the middle class due to the economic crisis of 2008, as you may imagine. While soup kitchens and similar had been running for years, serving free meals to people with very limited resources, much of the population affected by the economic crisis either could not use them, because their economy situation was not that bad, or either they would not accept to use them. So the city thus decided to promote community kitchens run by a mixed management, half public, half private, with shared responsibilities to encourage community participation and promote citizen appropriation, all while making a significant impact with really low resources. The city-backed collective lunch program, so-called comedores communitarios, is used daily by thousands of citizens in Mexico City. The system is quite simple. Any citizen with a room larger than has 323 square feet in their house can apply to use this space as a community kitchen. If accepted in the program, the city will install an industrial kitchen, supply all kinds of cookware for industrial cooking, and deliver various nonperishable foods, as it happened in Peru, such as rice, beans, bi-weekly or monthly. The people responsible for each kitchen in turn are expected to cook for the community and offer a daily menu in their homes. In the eight years since the program began, hundreds of houses in Mexico have been refurbished to accommodate daily meals, opening their living rooms to the public, and transforming private spaces into public ones. And yet the transformation of a home into a comedor communitario typical involves minor changes to the structure of the house itself. The communal dining room might be simply located, as here in a [? patio ?] [? cupboard unit. ?] Or as you will see in the future, in the next images, in even garages. I love these kind of images that show actually how the most private [inaudible] mixes with the most urban and collective reality. So the residents of these homes can meet with neighbors during lunch hours. The public and the private, the domestic and the urban co-exist. This one, for instance, is a comedor communitario placed in a garage. So they take out the car for a few hours, and they transform it, basically. So usually Mexico, a low cost menu, called popularly "comida corrida," costs about 80 pesos. And is generally comprised by beans, rice, some wheat tortillas, and a soup. The menu in these comedores communitarios is similar. Yet, thanks to the government subsidy, can be sold for only 10 pesos, which is 1/8 of the regular price of a menu. Which is actually also enough to pay a minimum wage to those participating in the preparation of food maintaining and food preparation maintaining of the space. Sorry. I could have the chance to get in touch with the government, and they actually facilitate me these maps, that they used to control. They actually have this system of weekly controls. So the government, or one social worker, usually steps weekly into the kitchen, just to be sure that everything is OK. And when I received the map, I was really deeply impressed by the fact that in such a few years, less than 10 years-- is started in 2009-- the city of Mexico looks like this nowadays. So there are hundreds of them. And the list of demand, the waiting list is extremely long. The government just cannot afford to pay more nonperishable foods and social workers to control. So this is a typical lunch menu in one of the comedores communitarios. So officially, food is served and must be consumed in situ. However, OK, it's Mexico. So despite the law, these kitchens usually serve food not only in house, but also beyond, in order to increase their income and satisfy a larger demand. So there's a huge system, a low tech system of deliveries that allow that to happen. Like a retired lawyer picking up food for his family and his friends. Also unemployed men that also help their neighbors to pick up the food because they couldn't pick it up during labor hours. So many are family-run. Others, however, employ outside personnel. Those who work in the kitchen do so for many different reasons. Some are there to support the community. So it's more ideological. While others need the paycheck. The kitchens are mainly managed by women, who in many cases are either housewives or were previously unemployed. However, like the Peruvian case, also a lot of men work in them. In Mexico, a wide social [? array ?] participates, eats, and cooks in collective kitchens. Not only the fact that male and female cook in an equal way, but also the fact that their place in diverse neighborhoods, as you saw in the map. And that helped to turn these infrastructures to be more accessible and welcoming to anyone. We find cases as the small ones as we have seen placed in all houses to this one, that is Las Margaritas, that occupies an old sports center, and has been able to grow. They offer, like, 400 meals a day, so it's quite large. And apart from the cooking and services, they offer all kinds of services. Like doctor, classes. And it's extremely well organized in order to allow that to happen with such a low budget. Classrooms for activities, small stores, psychology, tanatalogia, dentists. I mean, all kinds. It's really, really impressive. And they even cultivate, thanks to a New Zealand ONG, they could manage to build up this green house. And they even cultivate their own products. So what has changed more than anything are the dynamics of the neighborhoods themselves. The community dining room becomes an extension of the adjacent houses. The collective kitchen replaces and complements private kitchens that otherwise cease to be regularly used. Despite being a relatively quite new program, the daily routine of cooking for the community, eating, picking up things, the food, meeting in the dining room, has taken root quickly through the city. In fact, when you're actually entering one of those shared dining rooms, one feels that it's actually entering in a domestic space, despite knowing that those people don't live there. The influence of the community kitchens extends well beyond the house in which it is located. And when looking at the map that I showed you before, all these collective kitchen rooms, it is evident that the impact goes far beyond a specific neighborhood. And we're talking about, really, an urban network of collective participation. Let me go back to Lima. In 1990, a group of Canadian women traveled to Lima to visit comedores populares. At the time, there were ready collective kitchens in the area of Quebec. And the similarity of both systems prompted the meeting. So it's not that one influenced the other. It's just that both came out at the same moment, and they met, luckily. The case of Quebec is also quite interesting. At the beginning of 1980, three women decided to cook collectively in order to reduce household costs at the end of the month. The initiative came from [? jacine juliette, ?] who is here in the picture. Actually, I pictured her, and I could meet her in her actual business, Le Chic Resto Pop that operates as a restaurant for offering affordable and healthy inexpensive food. So at the end, she ended up working in relation with that. So [? jacine, ?] in the '80s, was a single mother. She was struggling to handle not only with family expenses, but also to manage her job hours with housekeeping and family care timings. So she proposed to her sister and a friend to start sharing to make the situation better, easier. And suddenly, thanks to a social worker, this domestic organization moved to a neighborhood association, opening the first neighborhood kitchen in 1986, the one that you see in the image called Hochelaga-Masionneuve. And the practice suddenly began to spread. There are already more than 100 collective kitchens operated. There were, at the end of the '80s, around 100. And what was interesting, actually, is the consequences of the trip of Peru. The trip of Peru allowed them to become aware of the political power, which they were not before. And suddenly, the they started to organize. They started to be organized under a partnership called Regoupement des Cuisines Collectives du Quebec, that still nowadays operates as a manager and helping them to be networked. And what is interesting is actually that despite the similarity of the Peruvian and the Canadian, between both the Peruvian and the Canadian origin, through these last decades, these kitchens have evolved, defining large differences between them. So the origin was quite similar, but nowadays, they operate radically different. In Quebec, the collective kitchen is just used every 15 days. That day, the kitchen admits and cooks in large quantities for taking home several portions. So the act of cooking is done collectively. Everyone participates actively. The groups are small, about eight people. And they are run by a social worker, who organizes and controls the station in order to make it successful. Being so small, the participation is always really intense. I always cooked in these ones when I visit. You had to. So everyone is equal. Everyone cooks for eating. Although the system is exemplary, maybe for this reason, for the fact that it's so well defined, so exemplary, the social impact of these Canadian collective kitchens is proportionately much smaller than those of Mexico or Lima. Excessive preparation and the standardization makes a larger participation unviable, despite actually existing a big demand to participate. Collective processes entail the risk of excesses, [inaudible] and regulation, and the consequential exclusion of those who basically don't follow the rules, or don't fit into the standard. Also, the fact that cooking happens not frequently, just every two weeks, hardly satisfies the amount of food and cooking . Needed so cooking in these kitchens covers more than a nutritional and economical everyday need. They cover, actually, a social need. This is probably one of the largest ones, that they combine the collective kitchen with a restaurant, as well as other economical activities. So the kitchen is extremely large and industrial. So when you ask all the participants, when you ask most of the people participating in this organization, they answer that they do it to socialize, basically, to have a sense of belonging in a community, to form part of something. So if in Lima and Mexico we draw conclusions about the capacity of collective kitchens to empower women, as well as their capacity to turn domestic cooking into paid labor, decreasing housekeeping costs and facilitating family care, Canada is illustrative of the capacity of these collective kitchens to establish social bonds. And comparing them, I learned about the consequences of regulating, of excessive regulation, and of course of the different ways of regulating. This is collective kitchens in Canada. So regarding the importance of the aforementioned regulations, I could research the urban implications related to cooking [? revelations ?] visiting Bangkok and Singapore. Maybe stressing the relation of politics and architecture is a twist, but nevertheless, it remains interesting to analyze the ethics of the regulations and the deregulation of everyday life in a really similar manner, and even contentious way. So the actual market of Bangkok is filled with apartments that lack of kitchens. Or if they do, those are hardly used. This kitchenless society is based on an extremely rich food market that provides delicious food at low cost. From very minimal kitchens composed of a pair of wicker baskets, would sell precooked dishes to fully equipped mobile kitchens that sell complex recipes cooked in situ. Bangkok streets are covered daily for a few hours in places of cook-- they are converted for a few hours of places of food production and consumption. The fact that the street itself, which is actually the street food, which is actually properly called hawker. So the hawker food is good and cheap, facilitates its daily consumption, and allowed to relieve daily housekeeping annoyances, and in some cases, avoid even to have a kitchen. The economic efficiency of these cooking infrastructures relies on various factors. Most of the hawkers just cook one dish. So they are specialized, or at least a few dishes. But the good ones want just one. And the fact that they cook just one dish actually allows them to refine the recipe, as well as to optimize purchases and infrastructures, reducing radically the cost. I learned that talking to them. They are father and son. The son is taking over the business. He has turned 65. And after 40 years helping his father, he's finally taking over. His grand, grand, grandfather was already cooking there in the same spot, cooking the same delicious pork with rice. Even if, looking at the picture, it doesn't look like a proper place to eat, most of the ministers of Bangkok, of-- sorry-- Thailand, eat here daily. And when they open, they have always a long line to be able to eat the delicious recipe. It's actually a well-known food cart and food place to eat in Bangkok. When I asked [? kam, ?] my research assistant why she never cooks at home, she actually took me here to understand. And I radically and totally really fast understood the reality. [? kam ?] was not able to cook this dish. And it would be like for me, or for anyone in Thailand, able to cook this dish. First, you don't have the access to that quality of pigs, basically, because just this family have access to that. And Just this family too have access to a recipe that have been working for more than a century. So even if you try it at home, forget it. So considering that, me being Spanish, that I love cooking, I understood why most of Bangkok's citizens didn't cook at home. Alongside with this, the fact that they are movable allows them to avoid rents and high expenses, decreasing extremely their costs, their expenditures. In cooking and consumption terms, the whole city is organized under an illegal system. Not illegal-- a legal. Despite that these Kitchens are not officially regulated by the government, a set of social agreements allow them to operate daily, being able even to be provided properly with electricity and water supplies, many as well as many other supplies. I was also fascinated by all the infrastructure of these mobile kitchens that pop up, hide in garages during a few hours, pop up again. And of course, the social agreement implies the police that in an unofficial manner regulates and help the social welfare. Lately, the government is trying to get control of the situation by cleaning the streets of hawkers. When I traveled last year in Bangkok, I found it was actually the topic to talk. A radical step that most citizens do not support, and that may affect actually the existing kitchenless market. For me, it was curious to compare this way of living to how Singapore faced the same regulation process decades ago in a successful manner. So how to use regulation for good and for bad. After Singapore got independence in the '60s, a huge reform based on housing took place in order to face the existing crisis. At the time, many people were living in unhygienic slums and crowded, squatter settlements. The prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, founded then the housing and development board, the famous HDB, to promote social housing, which progressively built and defined the actual domestic landscape. If at that time just 9% of the population were living in social housing, nowadays, more than 80% of the population lives in a public house, properly called HDB homes. The new housing developments included the regulation of hawker food in order to eliminate street cooking for hygenic reasons, and at the same time preserve the culture by regulating expenses, thanks to a system of low rents. It came out then the hawker center as a new architectural typology that would allow to allocate all those movable cooking street infrastructures under one roof. Hawker centers are always strategically situated at the center of each housing development, allowing them to be close and accessible to the inhabitants of each community. And thanks to the governmental support, rents and infrastructure expenses are kept low, and consequentially, food prices are also low. By including these cooking centers in public housing developments, placing these infrastructures in proximity to homes, and regulating adequately their management, the government has assured the access to cook food on a daily basis and preserve the decreasing domestic cost and annoyances. Alongside the hawker center, the so-called void deck also came out. In the first decades of the Housing Development Board, they actually promoted a type of block which left the ground floor empty for community uses. The type of occupation that can be done in the void deck, as you may imagine in Singapore, is well defined and regulated. However, despite that, all kind of uses happen in a casual manner. [music playing] I realized at the end of the day that I was attending a funeral, that I didn't realize before, because I was playing cards with them, eating. There was a kitchen. And it was really nice, actually. So when the community agrees, all those programs can be enclosed and formalized and turn permanent. I could find some shared kitchens the neighborhood built for daily use, as this one. They are quite exceptional, but despite that, they have become a reference for a new type of community kitchen that the government is promoting nowadays. This is GoodLife! Makan. It's a community kitchen place on Marine Terrace, and designed by DP architects that open daily to allow the elderly of the community to cook collectively. By elderly, I mean and legally means they're over 55. And Montfort Care, which is a private association, takes care of the place. And the government basically gives financial support, providing, among other things, food for cooking. There are no fixed rules. So no rules. Just that the food is free and available, and a fridge. And you just need to clean when you leave. So cooking things are self-organized, and internal packs and rules are rearranged permanently. Self-management, therefore, is encouraged, and also through the architectural design. So this case, I would say that it's similar as comedores communitarios in Mexico. The success of the Singaporean kitchen typology relies on the fact that the regulation is open and allows citizens' appropriation. After one year of its opening, it has been proved that the public expenses to support the elderly have decreased in that area, thanks to the kitchen. So it seems that the typology will or may expand in the future years in Singapore. I could [? answer ?] this type of community kitchens for caring. So if we were looking before for community kitchens for women, in this case-- and for housekeeping, labor, wages, in this case, it's quite clear that there is an idea of caring, caring of the other embedded. And I could find this typology also in Japan. And this is a really nice story as well. A couple of years ago, in Saitama, near Tokyo, a quite exemplary case called Care Yoshikawa opened. The architect, Chie Konno, was commissioned to design the offices of an association dedicated to the elderly, actually. Entering the design process, she proposed to install a large kitchen in the offices to do errands for the elderly from time to time. The kitchen was defined as a large table, as you see, where a stove and a point of water were installed. And in front of it, a large window was opened to allow visibility of the association activities. What was surprising is that, during the week of the construction process, the children of the neighborhood began to appear by the space gradually, playing in it, appropriating it. So it turned out that many of them spent many hours alone while parents were working until late, and ended up eating really poorly. So basically, children between three years old and 13, 14 years old, they're alone from 5:00 to 11:00 PM mostly, and they have to prepare by themselves dinner as well as doing the homework. So suddenly, being aware of this reality, a group of women decided to start cooking regularly for the children. Currently, they meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They cook dinner for around 30 children. And at the end, what is really interesting, is that actually adults also have started joining the dining ritual. And the kitchen for children has ended up being also a neighborhood kitchen. So residents have started growing food on their balconies needs to nourish the kitchen, and collective participation allows offering low cost meals for everyone. And what was actually really surprising is that this actually is not the only case in Japan. As this one in the picture as well. So in the last years, this new type of community kitchen for the children have emerged in the country. They are called "kodomo." They're so numerous that an association called "Kodomo Shokudo" was founded in 2015 to group them all. And nowadays, there are around 250 kodomos, and they're expanding. And I would say that probably Japan was the richest country in my research, an important fact. Basically also regarding the fact that I could find a wide diversity of kitchen typologies and realities. That's kodomo kitchens. But what's surprisingly actually is that Tokyo housing market is filled by apartments with shared kitchens of all kinds. Several companies, as the one that we have in the image, [? oak ?] House offer excusively to this new Japanese housing typology, that as they consider is becoming clearly a market trend. So at Oak house, last year, I could encounter, like, seven real estate companies. I didn't double check this year, but they're really expanding. So just taking a look to the impact on Tokyo, this image shows just available rooms in available buildings that they had in last August 2018. So imagine the ones that are occupied. And imagine that multiplied per seven. So it's really interesting to see the wide range of building types, from really large infrastructures as these ones, where the kitchen is shared by many, many inhabitants, hundreds. And they're called social houses, basically because they're communicated as that, as places to socialize. I could even find ones that they promise you that you would be married in two years. [laughter] Truly. It's Japan. That happens. To really small ones, as these ones, where a small group of people from four to seven people, usually workers, working people, shared the kitchens. And these ones, they call them "shared houses" to distinguish their typology. And among these small scale shared houses, there are really famous ones that have been widely published online in Arch Daily, because they are really, really well-designed, as this one, the Yokohama Apartments designed by ON Design and Erika Nakagawa. Or this one designed by Satoko Shinohara and Ayano Ishimura. Or this is a bit freak one called Nanjya, that alongside the shared house, they host a cafe on the tree. So you can go and have a nice coffee there. That's Nanjya. It's really nice. To this one, that is probably the newest and most extraordinary one. It's called SHIBUYA CAST. It's an extremely expensive and elitist living community, placed on the top floor of a newly built tower in Shibuya and designed by Naruse Inokuma. And they call themselves a co-family. And it's actually really difficult to get in. I had the chance to be with them for a while. So diversity of types and rents proved that the economical factor is not the main cause of the success of the typology. Despite the diversity, they have all in common one thing-- their inhabitants choose to share the kitchen in order to belong to a community and socialize. It is said that this social trend is started in 1995, with the first big earthquake in Kobe. Due to the natural disaster and its consequential social crisis, it emerged a feeling that the contemporary Japanese society, which a large part lives alone, consider that the data says that more than 50% in Tokyo is living alone nowadays. So this contemporary Japanese society have not been able to keep-- sorry. So the feeling is that, actually, this contemporary social society has not been able to keep traditional neighborhood bonds, erasing certain values of the social fabric. This need for socialness boosts a new culture of sharing that has also been empowered by the medias, that create imaginary values of sharing through films and TV series. The first one, the first popular one, I would say, came out in 2000. And it was a film called Room [? share. ?] But then we could also recall 2008 Last Friends serial, or probably the most known one, that if you have Netflix, you can have access to it. That is Terrace House, which is actually nowadays being produced also by Netflix. If I go backwards, let's take a to look to the kitchens that these people have, and take a look to Terrace Houses, imaginary. You can tell that there's something there. So in most of these kitchens, the act of cooking is not done collectively. They might do it by-- they essentially share the space. So they do it once in a while. They don't cook daily. The act of sharing this domestic space is already a strong tool that allows to raise community bonds for good or bad, accepting the values of this dissent and conflict. Despite that the Japanese case is quite particular, this sharing culture tendency is also a worldwide trend. I cannot deny that. And it's being widely discussed and debated. And of course, housing is not a part of all of these. Cases as a well-known "we live in New York" and similar companies prove that. I traveled to China to visit You+. You+ is probably the most significant housing company that, understanding the potentialities of this international sharing culture trend, is promoting housing with shared facilities. They have already 18 complexes in different cities in China that host around 5,000 people. And they want to expand soon internationally. The founder of the company is Lei Jun, who is the founder of the mobile company Xiaomi. This could be an anecdote, however You+ uses clearly Silicon Valley imaginary, offering these houses to start-up entrepreneurs, and promising a better business improvement through the use of their social spaces and netbooks. And despite the values of the project, it raises many doubts and questions regarding benefits outcome of all of this, especially by the fact that, despite using welfare social vocabulary, the economic outcome is clearly capitalized for the benefit of just one company. But let me go back to Japan to finish my story. When Kobe's earthquake, a collective housing group was fine by the government to come up with developments for those affected by this disaster. Among others, the professor and architect Ikuko Koyabe worked in the Kobe area, promoting shared spaces for the reconstruction. 10 buildings with collective kitchens were built at that time. Most of them for the elderly, which were actually the most needed ones. And [? manafuneai, ?] the one that you have in the picture, was the one to be built. Despite the success of the project, the kitchens were abandoned, and nowadays they look like this. Totally not in use. The lack of adequate process of design, as well as the lack of a good regulation, pushed the decay. Basically, inhabitants never felt that those shared spaces were theirs. This is another one with shared kitchens. And despite that, Ikuko Koyabe kept researching and promoting the typology. She wrote many books about co-housing, having a special interest in co-housing in Sweden. She traveled there, registered carefully the Swedish experiences to push similar projects in Japan. Finally, in 2003, the first co-housing was built up, this one that we have in the image. And after two years of design process, in which all the inhabitants were included to assure future appropriation and design [? equation, ?] Kankan Mori was built up. Kankan Mori occupies a [? pre-existing ?] second floor in a building that exists already, where there are 28 units of housing with kitchens. And they have also many spaces shared as the kitchen, as well as other types. And after Kankan Mori, after that, it was founded, a collective houses corporation to promote this kind of co-housing in Japan. And it has been quite active in the last years, building six buildings of co-housing. And they are three or more. They have three more under design. So as you see, the apartments have a little kitchen. And they share a big one. In 2009, they could build their first new building, fresh from scratch. This one. And usually these buildings are occupied by around 50 people. That's kind of the normal community size. And they just share two, three meals weekly. So clearly the share cooking and meeting does not satisfy a daily need, as I was mentioning in previous Japanese cases. So it's definitely a social act. In the Japanese case, it is clear that sharing domestic spaces allow to define and raise communities, empowering them. This is also how the space of the kitchen operates in rural areas in Senegal. And this is going to be my last trip, and the one that I explain tonight. When I traveled to Dakar, I could encounter many apartments that share a room as a space for cooking. Usually, this tiny room is used by two to four families, that they share the space, but never the cooking devices, never, never, never the fire. And I'm saying that because here fires are movable as well. So it would be easy to share it. This way of inhabiting comes from a rural tradition, where the house is usually defined by a set of rooms. Let me go to it. So as I was mentioning, this way of inhabiting comes from a rural tradition, where the house is usually defined by a set of rooms that enclose a patio. This typology, called "maison impluvium" came out to organize and protect the members of a clan. In those dwellings, usually more than one family lives, occupying several rooms. The number of rooms, room occupation per family varies depending on the needs of the family and depending on the timing. And they all share-- so basically, I think that it's really important to reinforce, because I found it so impressive and interesting, the fact that they can actually expand and increase their living spaces. And they always share the center, as actually a cooking place, where fires define different-- sorry. Different cooking spots. Here they're drawn. And it looks like this. So you can see that here it's happening, two cooking at the same time. And she was actually cooking as well. So three cooking at the same time. So in this typology, the collective kitchen becomes a center of a set of dwellings that are in relationship without necessarily [? leading to ?] physical contact. But by sharing one of their pieces, they are related. I brought a lot of these images, because probably this is the case that impacted me the most. And actually it was the first trip that I did at the beginning of these two years. So if we abstract this idea and remove the food from the equation, so forget about the cooking and the kitchen, we would have a city composed of housing and collective rooms, strategically located as satellite spaces where any household could happen. A fragmentary domestic city, a city composed of diffuse homes, whose limits vary depending on the use of the inhabitants. The Senegalese typology dates centuries back and embodies a whole architectural [? dilation ?] of a vast African area, made with humble technology in a non-urban context. And it's maybe one of the cases from this trip that could be seen from far away, from some of those problems concerning developed capitalist and technological societies. Nevertheless, this particular case renders visible how architecture and society are bonded and interact. Overall, above all, makes us questions from tradition about the past and about its immediate future. All these kitchen stories that I explained tonight, even if they are very diverse, share some things in common. All of them are attempts to reshape the relations between public and private. All of them are attempts to redefine our notions of urban and domestic spheres. And in a more and more connected society through this invisible technological landscape, these architectural typologies appear as physical tools, as a possible physical correlate through those invisible bonds. All of those examples that I showed tonight could be seen not only as places of production, and/or empowerment of women, of communities, but maybe also as possible precursors of new typologies, able to transgress and redefine pre-established social and especially domestic conditions. Thank you. [applause] [inaudible] a little and then I'll turn it to the-- thank you so much, Anna. I want to quickly turn the question and answer to the audience, but just to develop maybe a little bit where you were beginning to go at the end, which I would say is the big question about how do you start to move the analysis part of this project toward design, toward proposition? And you begin to find patterns in common, looking maybe even for, I don't know if typologies any longer is the right word, but somehow patterns of form and occupation that cross the very diverse cultures. And one of the things-- so I have a two part question. The first is more culture and form or something. The street food, the Asian street food, seems to me in a way the one that is so familiar, and also maybe unchangeable. I mean, unchangeable unless it turns into something else entirely, or difficult to develop, because it's so successful, but it depends on very particular cultural and agricultural situation, access to raw material, tradition of that kind of eating. And it's very successful. It seemed quite different to me than the Peruvian example, or the Japanese, which are also very different. But there, there were still cultural peculiarities, but you could start to see formal patterns in the architecture develop, which might be continued and refined. However, I guess what I'm wondering is, are the cultural situations so particular that they limit very much design possibilities? It seemed to me that in the wealthier cases, let's say, you could find analogs to the Japanese case, I think, in New York, and even Boston. You could certainly find them in Seattle, where 20-year-old, 30-year-old men, in a lot of the cases, like in Seattle, live alone in very small places, and need collective kitchens for social and nutritional reasons. But then it's not about empowering women. It's about empowering 30-year-old tech guys, right? And it seems very, very particular, those situations. Whereas in the Japanese case, I think it's also-- they were very young. And I do think there's a whole generation who marry later, if at all, who often live alone and need that social and nutritional combination. So I don't quite know the question, but it has something to do with, are the sort of ethnographic limits so severe that a design proposition is actually inhibited by the particular cultural situation? Or actually are you beginning to see certain commonalities, certain typologies that might lead to a more propositional phase of the project as opposed to the analytic phase? I mean, on purpose I wanted to finish with a floor plan. I have hardly showed floor plans. Most were images. I did that because one of my struggles was all the time to try to come out with a kind of more architectural design perspective. And at the same time, I was struggling all the time with the fact that I was putting on the same table such a diverse reality that in certain moments they were not comparable at all. And after these two years of intensity, I do realize, also after doing a PhD, that it's such a different way of looking at things. When you jump from one country to another, you eat, eat, eat all the time, and you just swallow references. At the end, what you swallow is actually an individual decision. So at the end, it's the way I look at things, and therefore the way I do understand our contemporary condition. And definitely my story is an occidental story that comes from a certain culture. And definitely the way that I have explained these things today definitely has a [? will ?] to have a consequence on our close proximity. And if you ask me more specifically, definitely that's why I thought that the Senegalese case, not only because the typology is so clear, but also the fact that it was the most ambiguous one. It was really difficult to discuss for me, going there and asking and researching, asking their inhabitants how actually they inhabit. Which was the Senegal? The-- yeah. All the houses that I showed are places in the south of Senegal, in the area of Casamance. Most of them are little towns. Some of them are not that little, like 15,000 people. But still, it was really difficult to discuss, for instance, what the family meant for them, which kind of uses they were doing. Even if they were doing exactly the same thing as I was doing, sleeping, eating, we are all the same. But the way they understood the house, it was so different, that for me, I thought that somehow it was the most-- the closest one to what I think that it should be, the future of our homes. The corollary part, which also has to do with moving it forward, I think it's maybe a little unfair, because it's not part of your story. But one of the things that obsesses our students a little bit are technologies, robotic technologies, new kinds of transportation, including robotic or autonomous vehicles. You mentioned a little bit delivery in one of the cases, I think the Peruvian case. But is it your sense that-- mostly you emphasized in situ, that the cooking and eating both. And this is why it works as a community, something more than just food, but a place for childcare and maybe even elderly gathering. It works because it's in situ, in a collective space. But can you imagine future delivery systems, maybe when they become economical, where a collective production of food could be delivered rather than eaten in situ, could be delivered and have positive impact? Did that ever maybe in the Japanese case or in the more wealthy cases, did things like that ever come up? Actually, that there was quite a discussion in the 19th century, here in New York. Oh, is that, right? Yeah. For the hotels? Yeah, for the hotels. And honestly, it was a time when the pneumatic tube came out, as well as the electric [? card. ?] So all the newspapers were talking about how to use that in order to transport deliveries, and especially also cook and grow food. So yeah, they tried even to ship soups, to see if the tubes were sealed enough and the soups were arriving properly heated. So yeah, that happened. Questions, comments for Anna? Yeah, Andrew. So I'm sort of intrigued by this last [inaudible].. Hi. Good to see you. Oh, great, a microphone. So I'm interested in following up on Michael's line of thinking, in an admittedly somewhat perverse way. So forgive me, but all of your examples are sort of beautifully bottom-up, and sort of community-driven. And there is this incredibly organic conviviality. Like, very close to that, if we pursue Michael's line of thinking, is actually the idea of sort of mealtime conviviality as a service, that could potentially be penetrated by capitalist inclinations. And so I'm wondering if you ever saw, in addition to these sort of bottom-up community spaces, its corporate other. Is this also coming soon? The case, the Chinese case that I brought, I brought it for that. So my goal was also to show that I'm aware of that reality. And it's a double-sided coin. It's really complicated to figure out, because it is a discussion that is on the table, and it's really hard. There's too many things, and it's really difficult to understand. But it's clear that the use of language, they appropriate certain vocabulary from certain policies in order to operate in a different manner. I was shocked by the fact that, for instance, all the workers of the company live there. So they work 24 hours, 24/7. And that shocked me. But what actually really shocked me, is that they were really proud. Of course, the owners of the company, I met the CEOs, and they don't live there. So yeah, there's a lot of risk. And it's better to say it in between lines. One more. It's a long way away. [? it's not ready. ?] I wondered if you had considered in this review the kibbutz collective of the '50s and '60s in Israel, and its evolution to today, as a model for some of the things that you've shown here. Yeah, I have left out of the scope a lot of cases, that I guess I will continue. I mean, it's been too much. I promise I have to do this. It has been the most difficult lecture I've done in my life. I was really nervous, as you might have seen. Basically, because it has been really hard, not only to try to sum up all that I have seen, but also being aware that there is a lot that I haven't included. Of course, I didn't include, for instance, all of the European cases. Like in Sweden, thanks to also the visibility of the awards, that also was actually really helpful. I rechanged all my initial proposals, because I started receiving a lot of emails of people that actually live in those topologies, and they were inviting me to go. And I avoid the European cases, because they are much more studied. And I focus more on those cases that are not that well known. I would say that, yeah, Bangkok and Singapore are the exception, but I just was curious about the consequences of street food, basically. And because I tried at that moment to establish a connection between recipes and shared kitchens. So to understand which cultures actually have a culinary culture that can just happen if you share the kitchen. And that's, for instance, in Senegal and the southeast of Asia, but I didn't talk about it because there was too few time. And I am aware of the kibbutz. It might be a field of research for the close future. Last question here. Hi. I was just wondering that, after coming back from all of this research to your practice as an architect, particularly in a Western context with certain-- I mean, I don't know if it's in Spain as entrenched as it is here, but entrenched ideas about private property, and entrenched ideas about how housing is to be built, have you have you had any success, strategically as a practitioner, trying to like to implement some of these more collective ideas? And speaking to an audience of people who are either practitioners of architecture or are endeavoring to be so, do you have any advice in terms of how to maybe even sell it? I really appreciate that question, because I'm going to come back to the floor plan. I definitely was not clear enough before. My fascination for this floor plan has many, many reasons. And mainly, as I was starting to introduce before, it's because the idea that generic is there. So it was really difficult for me to understand how people live, because actually the space was not clear, and also their culture was not clear for me. So the combination of both, it was really confusing. So I understood how a space can be generic in the sense that, due to its form and speciality, and even materiality, you cannot even distinguish its program. And I thought that that was really powerful in housing. And it's something that, before going to-- I actually traveled to Senegal because a former student emailed me. "Anna, what you're talking is here." So I went. And she was totally right. So this idea of the generic space was already there on the table as an interest in the office. And we're still pushing it. For instance, now I'm pushing it farther. So it's not only about building spaces that are generic in program, going beyond the idea of equal rooms. We know that, but pushing that farther. But also how to raise collective spaces that might not look like collective and produce collectivity. So for instance, in Mexico, we're building now a social housing block, alongside with other architects, that HHF is teaching here this semester. So HHF is also building with us, and [inaudible],, and [? dogma. ?] And thanks to the Tatiana Bilbao. Well, a big group. We're designing a lot of housing there. And our block is placed in a neighborhood that deals with drugs. It's a quite violent neighborhood. Even if they don't consider it, I do consider it. To the point that you cannot have a car in the street. And we do know that they're going to fence our open spaces, but we're designing them in order to force that to happen, to force a discussion and a dialogue between neighbors. So there are huge terraces in front of generic rooms. And those terraces are generic in the sense that exactly it's difficult to tell if they are collective or private, if they are individual or for one family or for two families. So we hope that that's going to force them, actually, to an active dialogue. And we'll see the consequences. We're really lucky, because the government is allowing us to try. Sometimes it's really difficult to do that. I'm just impressed at how the original proposal really focused on kitchens. And housing, of course, has to be there, but it was a kind of corollary. It was really about kitchens. And now it's amazing to me, the way even the stress on where the raw material food comes from, how close is it, or how is it delivered to the place, how community space, how ages from the children to the elderly, how the community space deals with all these. The kibbutz example is a good one, insofar as there has to be a kind of totalizing analysis of all these factors. When it really started with, let's say, just the kitchen, it ends up with an entire city sector, if not a city itself. And I think that systematicity that you uncovered was really, really helpful. So thank you, Anna. Thanks for coming back. Thank you. [applause]



Men and women stand on curving rock formations overlooking a pond containing flowery plants.
As a child, Pei found the Shizilin Garden in Suzhou to be "an ideal playground".[2]

Pei's ancestry traces back to the Ming Dynasty, when his family moved from Anhui province to Suzhou, but most importantly his family were directors of the Bank of China which later on funded the construction of important projects including the Kips Bay project in New York. They also found wealth in the sale of medicinal herbs, the family stressed the importance of helping the less fortunate.[3] Ieoh Ming Pei was born on 26 April 1917 to Tsuyee Pei and Lien Kwun, and the family moved to Hong Kong one year later. The family eventually included five children. As a boy, Pei was very close to his mother, a devout Buddhist who was recognized for her skills as a flautist. She invited him, his brothers, and his sisters to join her on meditation retreats.[4] His relationship with his father was less intimate. Their interactions were respectful but distant.[5]

Pei's ancestors' success meant that the family lived in the upper echelons of society, but Pei said his father was "not cultivated in the ways of the arts".[6] The younger Pei, drawn more to music and other cultural forms than to his father's domain of banking, explored art on his own. "I have cultivated myself," he said later.[5]

At the age of ten, Pei moved with his family to Shanghai after his father was promoted. Pei attended Saint Johns Middle School, run by Protestant missionaries. Academic discipline was rigorous; students were allowed only one half-day each month for leisure. Pei enjoyed playing billiards and watching Hollywood movies, especially those of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. He also learned rudimentary English skills by reading the Bible and novels by Charles Dickens.[7]

Pedestrians walk before a row of trees and a series of tall buildings. A blue sky overhead is obscured slightly by several clouds.
Pei describes the architecture of Shanghai's Bund waterfront area (seen here in a 2006 photo) as "very much a colonial past".[8]

Shanghai's many international elements gave it the name "Paris of the East".[9] The city's global architectural flavors had a profound influence on Pei, from the Bund waterfront area to the Park Hotel, built in 1934. He was also impressed by the many gardens of Suzhou, where he spent the summers with extended family and regularly visited a nearby ancestral shrine. The Shizilin Garden, built in the 14th century by a Buddhist monk, was especially influential. Its unusual rock formations, stone bridges, and waterfalls remained etched in Pei's memory for decades. He spoke later of his fondness for the garden's blending of natural and human-built structures.[2][7]

Soon after the move to Shanghai, Pei's mother developed cancer. As a pain reliever, she was prescribed opium, and assigned the task of preparing her pipe to Pei. She died shortly after his thirteenth birthday, and he was profoundly upset.[10] The children were sent to live with extended family; their father became more consumed by his work and more physically distant. Pei said: "My father began living his own separate life pretty soon after that."[11] His father later married a woman named Aileen, who moved to New York later in her life.[12]

Education and formative years

A man wearing a grey sweater and a fedora squats near an open box, holding a small canvas bag.
Pei said "Bing Crosby's films in particular had a tremendous influence on my choosing the United States instead of England to pursue my education."[13]

As Pei, neared the end of his secondary education, he decided to study at a university. He was accepted to a number of schools, but decided to enroll at the University of Pennsylvania.[14] Pei's choice had two roots. While studying in Shanghai, he had closely examined the catalogs for various institutions of higher learning around the world. The architectural program at the University of Pennsylvania stood out to him.[15] The other major factor was Hollywood. Pei was fascinated by the representations of college life in the films of Bing Crosby, which differed tremendously from the academic atmosphere in China. "College life in the U.S. seemed to me to be mostly fun and games", he said in 2000. "Since I was too young to be serious, I wanted to be part of it ... You could get a feeling for it in Bing Crosby's movies. College life in America seemed very exciting to me. It's not real, we know that. Nevertheless, at that time it was very attractive to me. I decided that was the country for me."[16]

In 1935 Pei boarded a boat and sailed to San Francisco, then traveled by train to Philadelphia. What he found, however, differed vastly from his expectations. Professors at the University of Pennsylvania based their teaching in the Beaux-Arts style, rooted in the classical traditions of Greece and Rome. Pei was more intrigued by modern architecture, and also felt intimidated by the high level of drafting proficiency shown by other students. He decided to abandon architecture and transferred to the engineering program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Once he arrived, however, the dean of the architecture school commented on his eye for design and convinced Pei to return to his original major.[17]

MIT's architecture faculty was also focused on the Beaux-Arts school, and Pei found himself uninspired by the work. In the library he found three books by the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. Pei was inspired by the innovative designs of the new International style, characterized by simplified form and the use of glass and steel materials. Le Corbusier visited MIT in November 1935, an occasion which powerfully affected Pei: "The two days with Le Corbusier, or 'Corbu' as we used to call him, were probably the most important days in my architectural education."[18] Pei was also influenced by the work of US architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1938 he drove to Spring Green, Wisconsin, to visit Wright's famous Taliesin building. After waiting for two hours, however, he left without meeting Wright.[19]

A portrait photograph of a middle-aged man with bushy white hair, wearing a dark suit
Pei attempted to meet renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, but gave up after waiting for two hours.[19]

Although he disliked the Beaux-Arts emphasis at MIT, Pei excelled in his studies. "I certainly don't regret the time at MIT", he said later. "There I learned the science and technique of building, which is just as essential to architecture."[20] Pei received his B.Arch. degree in 1940.[21]

While visiting New York City in the late '30s, Pei met a Wellesley College student named Eileen Loo. They began dating and they married in the spring of 1942. She enrolled in the landscape architecture program at Harvard University, and Pei was thus introduced to members of the faculty at Harvard's Graduate School of Design (GSD). He was excited by the lively atmosphere, and joined the GSD in December 1942.[22]

Less than a month later, Pei suspended his work at Harvard to join the National Defense Research Committee, which coordinated scientific research into US weapons technology during World War II. Pei's background in architecture was seen as a considerable asset; one member of the committee told him: "If you know how to build you should also know how to destroy."[23] The fight against Germany was ending, so he focused on the Pacific War. The US realized that its bombs used against the stone buildings of Europe would be ineffective against Japanese cities, mostly constructed from wood and paper; Pei was assigned to work on incendiary bombs. Pei spent two and a half years with the NDRC, but has revealed few details.[24]

In 1945 Eileen gave birth to a son, T'ing Chung; she withdrew from the landscape architecture program in order to care for him. Pei returned to Harvard in the autumn of 1945, and received a position as assistant professor of design. The GSD was developing into a hub of resistance to the Beaux-Arts orthodoxy. At the center were members of the Bauhaus, a European architectural movement that had advanced the cause of modernist design. The Nazi regime had condemned the Bauhaus school, and its leaders left Germany. Two of these, Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, took positions at the Harvard GSD. Their iconoclastic focus on modern architecture appealed to Pei, and he worked closely with both men.[25]

One of Pei's design projects at the GSD was a plan for an art museum in Shanghai. He wanted to create a mood of Chinese authenticity in the architecture without using traditional materials or styles.[26] The design was based on straight modernist structures, organized around a central courtyard garden, with other similar natural settings arranged nearby. It was very well received; Gropius, in fact, called it "the best thing done in [my] master class".[26] Pei received his M.Arch. degree in 1946, and taught at Harvard for another two years.[1][27]


1948–56: Early career with Webb and Knapp

In the spring of 1948 Pei was recruited by New York real estate magnate William Zeckendorf to join a staff of architects for his firm of Webb and Knapp to design buildings around the country. Pei found Zeckendorf's personality the opposite of his own; his new boss was known for his loud speech and gruff demeanor. Nevertheless, they became good friends and Pei found the experience personally enriching. Zeckendorf was well connected politically, and Pei enjoyed learning about the social world of New York's city planners.[28]

His first project for Webb and Knapp was an apartment building with funding from the Housing Act of 1949. Pei's design was based on a circular tower with concentric rings. The areas closest to the supporting pillar handled utilities and circulation; the apartments themselves were located toward the outer edge. Zeckendorf loved the design and even showed it off to Le Corbusier when they met. The cost of such an unusual design was too high, however, and the building never moved beyond the model stage.[29]

Pei's first project (1949) 131 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta
Pei's first project (1949)
131 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta

Pei finally saw his architecture come to life in 1949,[30] when he designed a two-story corporate building for Gulf Oil in Atlanta, Georgia. The building was demolished in February 2013 although the front facade will be retained as part of an apartment development. His use of marble for the exterior curtain wall brought praise from the journal Architectural Forum.[31] Pei's designs echoed the work of Mies van der Rohe in the beginning of his career as also shown in his own weekend-house in Katonah in 1952. Soon Pei was so inundated with projects that he asked Zeckendorf for assistants, which he chose from his associates at the GSD, including Henry N. Cobb and Ulrich Franzen. They set to work on a variety of proposals, including the Roosevelt Field Shopping Mall. The team also redesigned the Webb and Knapp office building, transforming Zeckendorf's office into a circular space with teak walls and a glass clerestory. They also installed a control panel into the desk that allowed their boss to control the lighting in his office. The project took one year and exceeded its budget, but Zeckendorf was delighted with the results.[32]

Pei wanted the open spaces and buildings of L'Enfant Plaza to be "functionally and visually related" to one another.[33]
Pei wanted the open spaces and buildings of L'Enfant Plaza to be "functionally and visually related" to one another.[33]

In 1952 Pei and his team began work on a series of projects in Denver, Colorado. The first of these was the Mile High Center, which compressed the core building into less than twenty-five percent of the total site; the rest is adorned with an exhibition hall and fountain-dotted plazas.[34] One block away, Pei's team also redesigned Denver's Courthouse Square, which combined office spaces, commercial venues, and hotels. These projects helped Pei conceptualize architecture as part of the larger urban geography. "I learned the process of development," he said later, "and about the city as a living organism."[35] These lessons, he said, became essential for later projects.[35]

Pei and his team also designed a united urban area for Washington, D.C., L'Enfant Plaza (named for French-American architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant).[36] Pei's associate Araldo Cossutta was the lead architect for the plaza's North Building (955 L'Enfant Plaza SW) and South Building (490 L'Enfant Plaza SW).[36] Vlastimil Koubek was the architect for the East Building (L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, located at 480 L'Enfant Plaza SW), and for the Center Building (475 L'Enfant Plaza SW; now the United States Postal Service headquarters).[36] The team set out with a broad vision that was praised by both The Washington Post and Washington Star (which rarely agreed on anything), but funding problems forced revisions and a significant reduction in scale.[37]

In 1955 Pei's group took a step toward institutional independence from Webb and Knapp by establishing a new firm called I. M. Pei & Associates. (The name changed later to I. M. Pei & Partners.) They gained the freedom to work with other companies, but continued working primarily with Zeckendorf. The new firm distinguished itself through the use of detailed architectural models. They took on the Kips Bay residential area on the east side of Manhattan, where Pei set up Kips Bay Towers, two large long towers of apartments with recessed windows (to provide shade and privacy) in a neat grid, adorned with rows of trees. Pei involved himself in the construction process at Kips Bay, even inspecting the bags of concrete to check for consistency of color.[38]

The company continued its urban focus with the Society Hill project in central Philadelphia. Pei designed the Society Hill Towers, a three-building residential block injecting cubist design into the 18th-century milieu of the neighborhood. As with previous projects, abundant green spaces were central to Pei's vision, which also added traditional townhouses to aid the transition from classical to modern design.[39]

From 1958 to 1963 Pei and Ray Affleck developed a key downtown block of Montreal in a phased process that involved one of Pei's most admired structures in the Commonwealth, the cruciform tower known as the Royal Bank Plaza (Place Ville Marie). According to the Canadian Encyclopedia "its grand plaza and lower office buildings, designed by internationally famous US architect I. M. Pei, helped to set new standards for architecture in Canada in the 1960s ... The tower's smooth aluminum and glass surface and crisp unadorned geometric form demonstrate Pei's adherence to the mainstream of 20th-century modern design."[40]

Although these projects were satisfying, Pei wanted to establish an independent name for himself. In 1959 he was approached by MIT to design a building for its Earth science program. The Green Building continued the grid design of Kips Bay and Society Hill. The pedestrian walkway at the ground floor, however, was prone to sudden gusts of wind, which embarrassed Pei. "Here I was from MIT," he said, "and I didn't know about wind-tunnel effects."[41] At the same time, he designed the Luce Memorial Chapel in at Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan. The soaring structure, commissioned by the same organisation that had run his middle school in Shanghai, broke severely from the cubist grid patterns of his urban projects.[42][43]

The challenge of coordinating these projects took an artistic toll on Pei. He found himself responsible for acquiring new building contracts and supervising the plans for them. As a result, he felt disconnected from the actual creative work. "Design is something you have to put your hand to," he said. "While my people had the luxury of doing one job at a time, I had to keep track of the whole enterprise."[44] Pei's dissatisfaction reached its peak at a time when financial problems began plaguing Zeckendorf's firm. I. M. Pei and Associates officially broke from Webb and Knapp in 1960, which benefited Pei creatively but pained him personally. He had developed a close friendship with Zeckendorf, and both men were sad to part ways.[45]

A series of brown boxlike buildings stand in front of a mountain.
Pei said he wanted the Mesa Laboratory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research to look "as if it were carved out of the mountain".[46]

NCAR and Related Projects

Pei was able to return to hands-on design when he was approached in 1961 by Walter Orr Roberts to design the new Mesa Laboratory for the National Center for Atmospheric Research outside Boulder, Colorado. The project differed from Pei's earlier urban work; it would rest in an open area in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. He drove with his wife around the region, visiting assorted buildings and surveying the natural environs. He was impressed by the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, but felt it was "detached from nature".[47]

The conceptualization stages were important for Pei, presenting a need and an opportunity to break from the Bauhaus tradition. He later recalled the long periods of time he spent in the area: "I recalled the places I had seen with my mother when I was a little boy—the mountaintop Buddhist retreats. There in the Colorado mountains, I tried to listen to the silence again—just as my mother had taught me. The investigation of the place became a kind of religious experience for me."[46] Pei also drew inspiration from the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples; he wanted the buildings to exist in harmony with their natural surroundings.[48] To this end, he called for a rock-treatment process that could color the buildings to match the nearby mountains. He also set the complex back on the mesa overlooking the city, and designed the approaching road to be long, winding, and indirect.[49]

Roberts disliked Pei's initial designs, referring to them as "just a bunch of towers".[50] Roberts intended his comments as typical of scientific experimentation, rather than artistic critique; still, Pei was frustrated. His second attempt, however, fit Roberts' vision perfectly: a spaced-out series of clustered buildings, joined by lower structures and complemented by two underground levels. The complex uses many elements of cubist design, and the walkways are arranged to increase the probability of casual encounters among colleagues.[51]

A grid of palm trees arranged in a tiled courtyard stands to the right of a dormitory building.
As with NCAR, Pei combined elements of cubism and natural harmony when designing the dormitories at New College of Florida in the mid-1960s.[52]

Once the laboratory was built, several problems with its construction became apparent. Leaks in the roof caused difficulties for researchers, and the shifting of clay soil beneath caused cracks in the buildings which were expensive to repair. Still, both architect and project manager were pleased with the final result. Pei refers to the NCAR complex as his "breakout building", and he remained a friend of Roberts until the scientist died in March 1990.[53]

The success of NCAR brought renewed attention to Pei's design acumen. He was recruited to work on a variety of projects, including the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, the Sundrome terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, and dormitories at New College of Florida.[54]

Kennedy Library

After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, his family and friends discussed how to construct a library that would serve as a fitting memorial. A committee was formed to advise Kennedy's widow Jacqueline, who would make the final decision. The group deliberated for months and considered many famous architects.[55] Eventually, Kennedy chose Pei to design the library, based on two considerations. First, she appreciated the variety of ideas he had used for earlier projects. "He didn't seem to have just one way to solve a problem," she said. "He seemed to approach each commission thinking only of it and then develop a way to make something beautiful."[56] Ultimately, however, Kennedy made her choice based on her personal connection with Pei. Calling it "really an emotional decision", she explained: "He was so full of promise, like Jack; they were born in the same year. I decided it would be fun to take a great leap with him."[57]

The project was plagued with problems from the outset. The first was scope. President Kennedy had begun considering the structure of his library soon after taking office, and he wanted to include archives from his administration, a museum of personal items, and a political science institute. After the assassination, the list expanded to include a fitting memorial tribute to the slain president. The variety of necessary inclusions complicated the design process and caused significant delays.[58]

A white triangular tower rises beside a black glass building, with circular structures on either side.
Pei considers the John F. Kennedy Library "the most important commission" in his life.[59]

Pei's first proposed design included a large glass pyramid that would fill the interior with sunlight, meant to represent the optimism and hope that Kennedy's administration had symbolized for so many in the US. Mrs. Kennedy liked the design, but resistance began in Cambridge, the first proposed site for the building, as soon as the project was announced. Many community members worried that the library would become a tourist attraction, causing particular problems with traffic congestion. Others worried that the design would clash with the architectural feel of nearby Harvard Square. By the mid-70s, Pei tried proposing a new design, but the library's opponents resisted every effort.[60] These events pained Pei, who had sent all three of his sons to Harvard, and although he rarely discussed his frustration, it was evident to his wife. "I could tell how tired he was by the way he opened the door at the end of the day," she said. "His footsteps were dragging. It was very hard for I. M. to see that so many people didn't want the building."[61]

Finally the project moved to Columbia Point, near the University of Massachusetts Boston. The new site was less than ideal; it was located on an old landfill, and just over a large sewage pipe. Pei's architectural team added more fill to cover the pipe and developed an elaborate ventilation system to conquer the odor. A new design was unveiled, combining a large square glass-enclosed atrium with a triangular tower and a circular walkway.[62]

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum was dedicated on 20 October 1979. Critics generally liked the finished building, but the architect himself was unsatisfied. The years of conflict and compromise had changed the nature of the design, and Pei felt that the final result lacked its original passion. "I wanted to give something very special to the memory of President Kennedy," he said in 2000. "It could and should have been a great project."[59] Pei's work on the Kennedy project boosted his reputation as an architect of note.[63]

"Pei Plan" in Oklahoma City

The Pei Plan was an urban redevelopment initiative designed for downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the 1960s and 1970s. It is the informal name for two related commissions by Pei – namely the Central Business District General Neighborhood Renewal Plan (design completed 1964) and the Central Business District Project I-A Development Plan (design completed 1966). It was formally adopted in 1965, and implemented in various public and private phases throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

The plan called for the demolition of hundreds of old downtown structures in favor of renewed parking, office building, and retail developments, in addition to public projects such as the Myriad Convention Center and the Myriad Botanical Gardens. It was the dominant template for downtown development in Oklahoma City from its inception through the 1970s. The plan generated mixed results and opinion, largely succeeding in re-developing office building and parking infrastructure but failing to attract its anticipated retail and residential development. Significant public resentment also developed as a result of the destruction of multiple historic structures. As a result, Oklahoma City's leadership avoided large-scale urban planning for downtown throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, until the passage of the Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) initiative in 1993.[64][65]

Providence's Cathedral Square

Providence's Cathedral Square, modeled after the Greek Agora marketplace
Providence's Cathedral Square, modeled after the Greek Agora marketplace

Another city which turned to Pei for urban renewal during this time was Providence, Rhode Island.[66] In the late 1960s, Providence hired Pei to redesign Cathedral Square, a once-bustling civic center which had become neglected and empty, as part of an ambitious larger plan to redesign downtown.[66] Pei's new plaza, modeled after the Greek Agora marketplace, opened in 1972.[66] Unfortunately, the city ran out of money before Pei's vision could be fully realized.[66] Also, recent construction of a low-income housing complex and Interstate 95 had changed the neighborhood's character permanently.[66] In 1974, The Providence Evening Bulletin called Pei's new plaza a "conspicuous failure."[66] By 2016, media reports characterized the plaza as a neglected, little-visited "hidden gem".[66]

Augusta, GA

The distinctive modern pyramid shaped penthouse, designed by Pei, that was added to the top of the historic Lamar Building in 1976.
The distinctive modern pyramid shaped penthouse, designed by Pei, that was added to the top of the historic Lamar Building in 1976.

In 1974, Augusta, GA turned to Pei and his firm for downtown revitalization.[67] From the plan, the Chamber of Commence building and Bicentennial Park, were completed.[68] In 1976, Pei designed a distinctive modern penthouse, that was added to the roof of architect William Lee Stoddart's historic Lamar Building, designed in 1916.[69] The penthouse is a modern take on a pyramid, predating Pei's more famous Louvre Pyramid. It has been criticized by architectural critic James Howard Kunstler as an "Eyesore of the Month" with him comparing it to Darth Vader's helmet.[70] In 1980, he and his company designed the Augusta Civic Center, now known as the James Brown Arena.[71]

Dallas City Hall

A tall beige building with an angled front face, leaning out from the top, is supported by three columns and covered with rows of windows
Pei wanted his design for Dallas City Hall to "convey an image of the people".[72]

Kennedy's assassination led indirectly to another commission for Pei's firm. In 1964 the acting mayor, Erik Jonsson, began working to change the community's image. Dallas was known and disliked as the city where the president had been killed, but Jonsson began a program designed to initiate a community renewal. One of the goals was a new city hall, which could be a "symbol of the people".[73] Jonsson, a co-founder of Texas Instruments, learned about Pei from his associate Cecil Howard Green, who had recruited the architect for MIT's Earth Sciences building.[74]

Pei's approach to the new Dallas City Hall mirrored those of other projects; he surveyed the surrounding area and worked to make the building fit. In the case of Dallas, he spent days meeting with residents of the city and was impressed by their civic pride. He also found that the skyscrapers of the downtown business district dominated the skyline, and sought to create a building which could face the tall buildings and represent the importance of the public sector. He spoke of creating "a public-private dialogue with the commercial high-rises".[75]

Working with his associate Theodore Musho, Pei developed a design centered on a building with a top much wider than the bottom; the facade leans at an angle of 34 degrees. A plaza stretches out before the building, and a series of support columns holds it up. It was influenced by Le Corbusier's High Court building in Chandigarh, India; Pei sought to use the significant overhang to unify building and plaza. The project cost much more than initially expected, and took 11 years. Revenue was secured in part by including a subterranean parking garage. The interior of the city hall is large and spacious; windows in the ceiling above the eighth floor fill the main space with light.[76]

Two dark buildings rise into the early evening sky. The tower on the right is spotted with plywood on its side.
The disastrous failure of windows on the Hancock Tower required replacing them with plywood; some called it "the world's tallest wood building".[77]

The city of Dallas received the building well, and a local television news crew found unanimous approval of the new city hall when it officially opened to the public in 1978. Pei himself considered the project a success, even as he worried about the arrangement of its elements. He said: "It's perhaps stronger than I would have liked; it's got more strength than finesse."[78] He felt that his relative lack of experience left him without the necessary design tools to refine his vision, but the community liked the city hall enough to invite him back. Over the years he went on to design five additional buildings in the Dallas area.[79]

Hancock Tower, Boston

While Pei and Musho were coordinating the Dallas project, their associate Henry Cobb had taken the helm for a commission in Boston. John Hancock Insurance chairman Robert Slater hired I. M. Pei & Partners to design a building that could overshadow the Prudential Tower, erected by their rival.[80]

After the firm's first plan was discarded due to a need for more office space, Cobb developed a new plan around a towering parallelogram, slanted away from the Trinity Church and accented by a wedge cut into each narrow side. To minimize the visual impact, the building was covered in large reflective glass panels; Cobb said this would make the building a "background and foil" to the older structures around it.[81] When the Hancock Tower was finished in 1976, it was the tallest building in New England.[82]

Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Serious issues of execution became evident in the tower almost immediately. Many glass panels fractured in a windstorm during construction in 1973. Some detached and fell to the ground, causing no injuries but sparking concern among Boston residents. In response, the entire tower was reglazed with smaller panels. This significantly increased the cost of the project. Hancock sued the glass manufacturers, Libbey-Owens-Ford, as well as I. M. Pei & Partners, for submitting plans that were "not good and workmanlike".[83] LOF countersued Hancock for defamation, accusing Pei's firm of poor use of their materials; I. M. Pei & Partners sued LOF in return. All three companies settled out of court in 1981.[84]

The project became an albatross for Pei's firm. Pei himself refused to discuss it for many years. The pace of new commissions slowed and the firm's architects began looking overseas for opportunities. Cobb worked in Australia and Pei took on jobs in Singapore, Iran, and Kuwait. Although it was a difficult time for everyone involved, Pei later reflected with patience on the experience. "Going through this trial toughened us," he said. "It helped to cement us as partners; we did not give up on each other."[85]

National Gallery East Building, Washington, DC

A large grey building rises above a stone plaza. Short square towers appear on either side of the building, and an array of irregular glass pyramids are in the middle of the plaza.
Time magazine headlined its review of Pei's design for the East Building "Masterpiece on the Mall".[86]

In the mid-1960s, directors of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., declared the need for a new building. Paul Mellon, a primary benefactor of the gallery and a member of its building committee, set to work with his assistant J. Carter Brown (who became gallery director in 1969) to find an architect. The new structure would be located to the east of the original building, and tasked with two functions: offer a large space for public appreciation of various popular collections; and house office space as well as archives for scholarship and research. They likened the scope of the new facility to the Library of Alexandria. After inspecting Pei's work at the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa and the Johnson Museum at Cornell University, they offered him the commission.[87]

Pei took to the project with vigor, and set to work with two young architects he had recently recruited to the firm, William Pedersen and Yann Weymouth. Their first obstacle was the unusual shape of the building site, a trapezoid of land at the intersection of Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues. Inspiration struck Pei in 1968, when he scrawled a rough diagram of two triangles on a scrap of paper. The larger building would be the public gallery; the smaller would house offices and archives. This triangular shape became a singular vision for the architect. As the date for groundbreaking approached, Pedersen suggested to his boss that a slightly different approach would make construction easier. Pei simply smiled and said: "No compromises."[88]

The growing popularity of art museums presented unique challenges to the architecture. Mellon and Pei both expected large crowds of people to visit the new building, and they planned accordingly. To this end, he designed a large lobby roofed with enormous skylights. Individual galleries are located along the periphery, allowing visitors to return after viewing each exhibit to the spacious main room. A large mobile sculpture by American artist Alexander Calder was later added to the lobby.[89] Pei hoped the lobby would be exciting to the public in the same way as the central room of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The modern museum, he said later, "must pay greater attention to its educational responsibility, especially to the young".[90]

A large open cement room contains several people on the ground far below a balcony. Several trees are planted in the concrete floor, and an array of clear windows let in sunshine from above.
Critic Richard Hennessy complained in Artforum about the East Building's "shocking fun-house atmosphere".[91]

Materials for the building's exterior were chosen with careful precision. To match the look and texture of the original gallery's marble walls, builders re-opened the quarry in Knoxville, Tennessee, from which the first batch of stone had been harvested. The project even found and hired Malcolm Rice, a quarry supervisor who had overseen the original 1941 gallery project. The marble was cut into three-inch-thick panels and arranged over the concrete foundation, with darker blocks at the bottom and lighter blocks on top.[92]

The East Building was honored on 30 May 1978, two days before its public unveiling, with a black-tie party attended by celebrities, politicians, benefactors, and artists. When the building opened, popular opinion was enthusiastic. Large crowds visited the new museum, and critics generally voiced their approval. Ada Louise Huxtable wrote in The New York Times that Pei's building was "a palatial statement of the creative accommodation of contemporary art and architecture".[91] The sharp angle of the smaller building has been a particular note of praise for the public; over the years it has become stained and worn from the hands of visitors.[93]

Some critics disliked the unusual design, however, and criticized the reliance on triangles throughout the building. Others took issue with the large main lobby, particularly its attempt to lure casual visitors. In his review for Artforum, critic Richard Hennessy described a "shocking fun-house atmosphere" and "aura of ancient Roman patronage".[91] One of the earliest and most vocal critics, however, came to appreciate the new gallery once he saw it in person. Allan Greenberg had scorned the design when it was first unveiled, but wrote later to J. Carter Brown: "I am forced to admit that you are right and I was wrong! The building is a masterpiece."[94]

Starting in 2005, the joints attaching the marble panels to the walls began to show signs of strain, creating a risk of panels falling off the building onto the public below. In 2008 officials decided that it would be necessary to remove and reinstall all the panels. The project is scheduled for completion in 2013.[95]

Fragrant Hills, China

After US President Richard Nixon made his famous 1972 visit to China, a wave of exchanges took place between the two countries. One of these was a delegation of the American Institute of Architects in 1974, which Pei joined. It was his first trip back to China since leaving in 1935. He was favorably received, returned the welcome with positive comments, and a series of lectures ensued. Pei noted in one lecture that since the 1950s Chinese architects had been content to imitate Western styles; he urged his audience in one lecture to search China's native traditions for inspiration.[96]

A white building with ornamented windows faces a lake ringed with rock structures. Trees appear around the structure.
Pei was surprised by public resistance to his traditional design of the hotel at Fragrant Hills in China. "Many people thought I was being reactionary," he said.[97]

In 1978, Pei was asked to initiate a project for his home country. After surveying a number of different locations, Pei fell in love with a valley that had once served as an imperial garden and hunting preserve known as Fragrant Hills. The site housed a decrepit hotel; Pei was invited to tear it down and build a new one. As usual, he approached the project by carefully considering the context and purpose. Likewise, he considered modernist styles inappropriate for the setting. Thus, he said, it was necessary to find "a third way".[98]

After visiting his ancestral home in Suzhou, Pei created a design based on some simple but nuanced techniques he admired in traditional residential Chinese buildings. Among these were abundant gardens, integration with nature, and consideration of the relationship between enclosure and opening. Pei's design included a large central atrium covered by glass panels that functioned much like the large central space in his East Building of the National Gallery. Openings of various shapes in walls invited guests to view the natural scenery beyond. Younger Chinese who had hoped the building would exhibit some of Cubist flavor for which Pei had become known were disappointed, but the new hotel found more favour with government officials and architects.[99]

The hotel, with 325 guest rooms and a four-story central atrium, was designed to fit perfectly into its natural habitat. The trees in the area were of special concern, and particular care was taken to cut down as few as possible. He worked with an expert from Suzhou to preserve and renovate a water maze from the original hotel, one of only five in the country. Pei was also meticulous about the arrangement of items in the garden behind the hotel; he even insisted on transporting 230 short tons (210 t) of rocks from a location in southwest China to suit the natural aesthetic. An associate of Pei's said later that he never saw the architect so involved in a project.[100]

During construction, a series of mistakes collided with the nation's lack of technology to strain relations between architects and builders. Whereas 200 or so workers might have been used for a similar building in the US, the Fragrant Hill project employed over 3,000 workers. This was mostly because the construction company lacked the sophisticated machines used in other parts of the world. The problems continued for months, until Pei had an uncharacteristically emotional moment during a meeting with Chinese officials. He later explained that his actions included "shouting and pounding the table" in frustration.[101] The design staff noticed a difference in the manner of work among the crew after the meeting. As the opening neared, however, Pei found the hotel still needed work. He began scrubbing floors with his wife and ordered his children to make beds and vacuum floors. The project's difficulties took an emotional and physical strain on the Pei family.[102]

A building of dark tinted glass stands over a city street. The corners of the building are smoothed at 45-degree angles.
Pei said of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center: "The complications exceeded even my expectations."[103]

The Fragrant Hill Hotel opened on 17 October 1982 but quickly fell into disrepair. A member of Pei's staff returned for a visit several years later and confirmed the dilapidated condition of the hotel. He and Pei attributed this to the country's general unfamiliarity with deluxe buildings.[104] The Chinese architectural community at the time gave the structure little attention, as their interest at the time centered on the work of American postmodernists such as Michael Graves.[105]

Javits Convention Center, New York

As the Fragrant Hill project neared completion, Pei began work on the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, for which his associate James Freed served as lead designer. Hoping to create a vibrant community institution in what was then a run-down neighborhood on Manhattan's west side, Freed developed a glass-coated structure with an intricate space frame of interconnected metal rods and spheres.[106]

The convention center was plagued from the start by budget problems and construction blunders. City regulations forbid a general contractor having final authority over the project, so architects and program manager Richard Kahan had to coordinate the wide array of builders, plumbers, electricians, and other workers. The forged steel globes to be used in the space frame came to the site with hairline cracks and other defects; 12,000 were rejected. These and other problems led to media comparisons with the disastrous Hancock Tower. One New York City official blamed Kahan for the difficulties, indicating that the building's architectural flourishes were responsible for delays and financial crises.[107] The Javits Center opened on 3 April 1986, to a generally positive reception. During the inauguration ceremonies, however, neither Freed nor Pei was recognized for their role in the project.

Le Grand Louvre, Paris

A classical building with ornamental design rises above a small crowd. Rounded archways line the front of the structure.
Pei was acutely aware, as he said, that "the history of Paris was embedded in the stones of the Louvre."[108]

When François Mitterrand was elected President of France in 1981, he laid out an ambitious plan for a variety of construction projects. One of these was the renovation of the Louvre Museum. Mitterrand appointed a civil servant named Émile Biasini (fr) to oversee it. After visiting museums in Europe and the United States, including the US National Gallery, he asked Pei to join the team. The architect made three secretive trips to Paris, to determine the feasibility of the project; only one museum employee knew why he was there.[109] Pei finally agreed that a reconstruction project was not only possible, but necessary for the future of the museum. He thus became the first foreign architect to work on the Louvre.[110]

The heart of the new design included not only a renovation of the Cour Napoléon in the midst of the buildings, but also a transformation of the interiors. Pei proposed a central entrance, not unlike the lobby of the National Gallery East Building, which would link the three major buildings. Below would be a complex of additional floors for research, storage, and maintenance purposes. At the center of the courtyard he designed a glass and steel pyramid, first proposed with the Kennedy Library, to serve as entrance and anteroom skylight. It was mirrored by another inverted pyramid underneath, to reflect sunlight into the room. These designs were partly an homage to the fastidious geometry of the famous French landscape architect André Le Nôtre (1613–1700).[111] Pei also found the pyramid shape best suited for stable transparency, and considered it "most compatible with the architecture of the Louvre, especially with the faceted planes of its roofs".[108]

Biasini and Mitterrand liked the plans, but the scope of the renovation displeased Louvre director André Chabaud. He resigned from his post, complaining that the project was "unfeasible" and posed "architectural risks".[112] The public also reacted harshly to the design, mostly because of the proposed pyramid.[113] One critic called it a "gigantic, ruinous gadget";[114] another charged Mitterrand with "despotism" for inflicting Paris with the "atrocity".[114] Pei estimated that 90 percent of Parisians opposed his design. "I received many angry glances in the streets of Paris," he said.[115] Some condemnations carried nationalistic overtones. One opponent wrote: "I am surprised that one would go looking for a Chinese architect in America to deal with the historic heart of the capital of France."[116]

A grey pyramid sits in the center of a courtyard, surrounded by ancient buildings.
Pei decided that a pyramid was "most compatible" with the other structures at the Louvre, complementing their roofs' faceted planes.[108]

Soon, however, Pei and his team won the support of several key cultural icons, including the conductor Pierre Boulez and Claude Pompidou, widow of former French President Georges Pompidou, after whom another controversial museum was named. In an attempt to soothe public ire, Pei took a suggestion from then-mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac and placed a full-sized cable model of the pyramid in the courtyard. During the four days of its exhibition, an estimated 60,000 people visited the site. Some critics eased their opposition after witnessing the proposed scale of the pyramid.[117]

To minimize the impact of the structure, Pei demanded a method of glass production that resulted in clear panes. The pyramid was constructed at the same time as the subterranean levels below, which caused difficulties during the building stages. As they worked, construction teams came upon an abandoned set of rooms containing 25,000 historical items; these were incorporated into the rest of the structure to add a new exhibition zone.[118] The new Louvre courtyard was opened to the public on 14 October 1988, and the Pyramid entrance was opened the following March. By this time, public opinion had softened on the new installation; a poll found a fifty-six percent approval rating for the pyramid, with twenty-three percent still opposed. The newspaper Le Figaro had vehemently criticized Pei's design, but later celebrated the tenth anniversary of its magazine supplement at the pyramid.[119] Prince Charles of Britain surveyed the new site with curiosity, and declared it "marvelous, very exciting".[120] A writer in Le Quotidien de Paris wrote: "The much-feared pyramid has become adorable."[120] The experience was exhausting for Pei, but also rewarding. "After the Louvre," he said later, "I thought no project would be too difficult."[121] The Louvre Pyramid has become Pei's most famous structure.[122]

Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas

The opening of the Louvre Pyramid coincided with four other projects on which Pei had been working, prompting architecture critic Paul Goldberger to declare 1989 "the year of Pei" in The New York Times.[123] It was also the year in which Pei's firm changed its name to Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, to reflect the increasing stature and prominence of his associates. At the age of seventy-two, Pei had begun thinking about retirement, but continued working long hours to see his designs come to light.[124]

A beige cube rises at an angle around a half-cone made of glass and steel. In front, a square archway overlooks a stone courtyard.
Although he usually designed entirely by hand, Pei used a computer to "confirm the spaces" for the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.[125]

One of the projects took Pei back to Dallas, Texas, to design the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The success of city's performing artists, particularly the Dallas Symphony Orchestra then being led by conductor Eduardo Mata, led to interest by city leaders in creating a modern center for musical arts that could rival the best halls in Europe. The organizing committee contacted 45 architects, but at first Pei did not respond, thinking that his work on the Dallas City Hall had left a negative impression. One of his colleagues from that project, however, insisted that he meet with the committee. He did and, although it would be his first concert hall, the committee voted unanimously to offer him the commission. As one member put it: "We were convinced that we would get the world's greatest architect putting his best foot forward."[126]

The project presented a variety of specific challenges. Because its main purpose was the presentation of live music, the hall needed a design focused on acoustics first, then public access and exterior aesthetics. To this end, a professional sound technician was hired to design the interior. He proposed a shoebox auditorium, used in the acclaimed designs of top European symphony halls such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Vienna Musikverein. Pei drew inspiration for his adjustments from the designs of the German architect Johann Balthasar Neumann, especially the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He also sought to incorporate some of the panache of the Paris Opéra designed by Charles Garnier.[127]

Pei's design placed the rigid shoebox at an angle to the surrounding street grid, connected at the north end to a long rectangular office building, and cut through the middle with an assortment of circles and cones. The design attempted to reproduce with modern features the acoustic and visual functions of traditional elements like filigree. The project was risky: its goals were ambitious and any unforeseen acoustic flaws would be virtually impossible to remedy after the hall's completion. Pei admitted that he did not completely know how everything would come together. "I can imagine only 60 percent of the space in this building," he said during the early stages. "The rest will be as surprising to me as to everyone else."[128] As the project developed, costs rose steadily and some sponsors considered withdrawing their support. Billionaire tycoon Ross Perot made a donation of US$10 million, on the condition that it be named in honor of Morton H. Meyerson, the longtime patron of the arts in Dallas.[129]

The building opened and immediately garnered widespread praise, especially for its acoustics. After attending a week of performances in the hall, a music critic for The New York Times wrote an enthusiastic account of the experience and congratulated the architects. One of Pei's associates told him during a party before the opening that the symphony hall was "a very mature building"; he smiled and replied: "Ah, but did I have to wait this long?"[130]

Bank of China, Hong Kong

A tall tower coated with reflective glass and steel X patterns rises over trees and smaller buildings.
Bank of China Tower, one of Pei's most recognized works in the 1990s.

A new offer had arrived for Pei from the Chinese government in 1982. With an eye toward the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from the British in 1997, authorities in China sought Pei's aid on a new tower for the local branch of the Bank of China. The Chinese government was preparing for a new wave of engagement with the outside world and sought a tower to represent modernity and economic strength. Given the elder Pei's history with the bank before the Communist takeover, government officials visited the 89-year-old man in New York to gain approval for his son's involvement. Pei then spoke with his father at length about the proposal. Although the architect remained pained by his experience with Fragrant Hill, he agreed to accept the commission.[131]

The proposed site in Hong Kong's Central District was less than ideal; a tangle of highways lined it on three sides. The area had also been home to a headquarters for Japanese military police during World War II, and was notorious for prisoner torture. The small parcel of land made a tall tower necessary, and Pei had usually shied away from such projects; in Hong Kong especially, the skyscrapers lacked any real architectural character. Lacking inspiration and unsure of how to approach the building, Pei took a weekend vacation to the family home in Katonah, New York. There he found himself experimenting with a bundle of sticks until he happened upon a cascading sequence.[132]

Pei felt that his design for the Bank of China Tower needed to reflect "the aspirations of the Chinese people".[133] The design that he developed for the skyscraper was not only unique in appearance, but also sound enough to pass the city's rigorous standards for wind-resistance. The tower was planned around a visible truss structure, which distributed stress to the four corners of the base. Using the reflective glass that had become something of a trademark for him, Pei organized the facade around a series of boxed X shapes. At the top, he designed the roofs at sloping angles to match the rising aesthetic of the building. Some influential advocates of feng shui in Hong Kong and China criticized the design, and Pei and government officials responded with token adjustments.[134]

As the tower neared completion, Pei was shocked to witness the government's massacre of unarmed civilians at the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. He wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times titled "China Won't Ever Be the Same", in which he said that the killings "tore the heart out of a generation that carries the hope for the future of the country".[135] The massacre deeply disturbed his entire family, and he wrote that "China is besmirched."[135]

1990–present: museum projects

A grey tiled building rises over a lake, with a cylinder set on a narrow pole, and a sloping glass wall on one end.
One staff member sympathized with Pei's frustrations with the lack of organization at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, admitting that he was "operating in a vacuum".[136]

As the 1990s began, Pei transitioned into a role of decreased involvement with his firm. The staff had begun to shrink, and Pei wanted to dedicate himself to smaller projects allowing for more creativity. Before he made this change, however, he set to work on his last major project as active partner: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Considering his work on such bastions of high culture as the Louvre and US National Gallery, some critics were surprised by his association with what many considered a tribute to low culture. The sponsors of the hall, however, sought Pei for specifically this reason; they wanted the building to have an aura of respectability from the beginning. As in the past, Pei accepted the commission in part because of the unique challenge it presented.[137]

Using a glass wall for the entrance, similar in appearance to his Louvre pyramid, Pei coated the exterior of the main building in white metal, and placed a large cylinder on a narrow perch to serve as a performance space. The combination of off-centered wraparounds and angled walls was, Pei said, designed to provide "a sense of tumultuous youthful energy, rebelling, flailing about".[138]

The building opened in 1995, and was received with moderate praise. The New York Times called it "a fine building", but Pei was among those who felt disappointed with the results. The museum's early beginnings in New York combined with an unclear mission created a fuzzy understanding among project leaders for precisely what was needed.[136] Although the city of Cleveland benefited greatly from the new tourist attraction, Pei was unhappy with it.[136]

At the same time, Pei designed a new museum for Luxembourg, the Musée d'art moderne Grand-Duc Jean, commonly known as the Mudam. Drawing from the original shape of the Fort Thüngen walls where the museum was located, Pei planned to remove a portion of the original foundation. Public resistance to the historical loss forced a revision of his plan, however, and the project was nearly abandoned. The size of the building was halved, and it was set back from the original wall segments to preserve the foundation. Pei was disappointed with the alterations, but remained involved in the building process even during construction.[139]

In 1995, Pei was hired to design an extension to the Deutsches Historisches Museum, or German Historical Museum in Berlin. Returning to the challenge of the East Building of the US National Gallery, Pei worked to combine a modernist approach with a classical main structure. He described the glass cylinder addition as a "beacon",[140] and topped it with a glass roof to allow plentiful sunlight inside. Pei had difficulty working with German government officials on the project; their utilitarian approach clashed with his passion for aesthetics. "They thought I was nothing but trouble", he said.[141]

Pei also worked at this time on two projects for a new Japanese religious movement called Shinji Shumeikai. He was approached by the movement's spiritual leader, Kaishu Koyama, who impressed the architect with her sincerity and willingness to give him significant artistic freedom. One of the buildings was a bell tower, designed to resemble the bachi used when playing traditional instruments like the shamisen. Pei was unfamiliar with the movement's beliefs, but explored them in order to represent something meaningful in the tower. As he said: "It was a search for the sort of expression that is not at all technical."[142]

A curving circular tunnel opens to reveal a building with a tall sloping roof and a circular window in the front door.
Pei's tunnel through a mountain leading to the Miho Museum was partly inspired by a story from fourth-century Chinese poet Tao Yuanming.[143]

The experience was rewarding for Pei, and he agreed immediately to work with the group again. The new project was the Miho Museum, to display Koyama's collection of tea ceremony artifacts. Pei visited the site in Shiga Prefecture, and during their conversations convinced Koyama to expand her collection. She conducted a global search and acquired more than 300 items showcasing the history of the Silk Road.[144]

One major challenge was the approach to the museum. The Japanese team proposed a winding road up the mountain, not unlike the approach to the NCAR building in Colorado. Instead, Pei ordered a hole cut through a nearby mountain, connected to a major road via a bridge suspended from ninety-six steel cables and supported by a post set into the mountain. The museum itself was built into the mountain, with 80 percent of the building underground.[145]

When designing the exterior, Pei borrowed from the tradition of Japanese temples, particularly those found in nearby Kyoto. He created a concise spaceframe wrapped into French limestone and covered with a glass roof. Pei also oversaw specific decorative details, including a bench in the entrance lobby, carved from a 350-year-old keyaki tree. Because of Koyama's considerable wealth, money was rarely considered an obstacle; estimates at the time of completion put the cost of the project at US$350 million.[146]

During the first decade of the 2000s, Pei designed a variety of buildings, including the Suzhou Museum near his childhood home.[147] He also designed the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar at the request of the Al-Thani Family. Although it was originally planned for the corniche road along Doha Bay, Pei convinced project coordinators to build a new island to provide the needed space. He then spent six months touring the region and surveying mosques in Spain, Syria, and Tunisia. He was especially impressed with the elegant simplicity of the Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo.

Once again, Pei sought to combine new design elements with the classical aesthetic most appropriate for the location of the building. The rectangular boxes rotate evenly to create a subtle movement, with small arched windows at regular intervals into the limestone exterior. The museum's coordinators were pleased with the project; its official website describes its "true splendour unveiled in the sunlight", and speaks of "the shades of colour and the interplay of shadows paying tribute to the essence of Islamic architecture".[148]

The Macao Science Center in Macau, designed by Pei Partnership Architects in association with I. M. Pei.
The Macao Science Center in Macau, designed by Pei Partnership Architects in association with I. M. Pei.

The Macao Science Center in Macau was designed by Pei Partnership Architects in association with I. M. Pei. The project to build the science center was conceived in 2001 and construction started in 2006.[149] The center was completed in 2009 and opened by the Chinese President Hu Jintao.[150] The main part of the building is a distinctive conical shape with a spiral walkway and large atrium inside, similar to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Galleries lead off the walkway, mainly consisting of interactive exhibits aimed at science education. The building is in a prominent position by the sea and is now a landmark of Macau.[150]

Style and method

Pei's style is described as thoroughly modernist, with significant cubist themes.[151] He is known for combining traditional architectural elements with progressive designs based on simple geometric patterns. As one critic writes: "Pei has been aptly described as combining a classical sense of form with a contemporary mastery of method."[152] In 2000, biographer Carter Wiseman called Pei "the most distinguished member of his Late-Modernist generation still in practice".[153] At the same time, Pei himself rejects simple dichotomies of architectural trends. He once said: "The talk about modernism versus post-modernism is unimportant. It's a side issue. An individual building, the style in which it is going to be designed and built, is not that important. The important thing, really, is the community. How does it affect life?"[154]

Pei's work is celebrated throughout the world of architecture. His colleague John Portman once told him: "Just once, I'd like to do something like the East Building."[155] But this originality does not always bring large financial reward; as Pei replied to the successful architect: "Just once, I'd like to make the kind of money you do."[155] His concepts, moreover, are too individualized and dependent on context to give rise to a particular school of design. Pei refers to his own "analytical approach" when explaining the lack of a "Pei School". "For me," he said, "the important distinction is between a stylistic approach to the design; and an analytical approach giving the process of due consideration to time, place, and purpose ... My analytical approach requires a full understanding of the three essential elements ... to arrive at an ideal balance among them."[156]

Awards and honors

In the words of his biographer, Pei has won "every award of any consequence in his art",[153] including the Arnold Brunner Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1963), the Gold Medal for Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1979), the AIA Gold Medal (1979), the first Praemium Imperiale for Architecture from the Japan Art Association (1989), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the 1998 Edward MacDowell Medal in the Arts,[157] and the 2010 Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. In 1983 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture. In its citation, the jury said: "Ieoh Ming Pei has given this century some of its most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms ... His versatility and skill in the use of materials approach the level of poetry."[158] The prize was accompanied by a US$100,000 award, which Pei used to create a scholarship for Chinese students to study architecture in the US, on the condition that they return to China to work.[159] In being awarded the 2003 Henry C. Turner Prize by the National Building Museum, museum board chair Carolyn Brody praised his impact on construction innovation: "His magnificent designs have challenged engineers to devise innovative structural solutions, and his exacting expectations for construction quality have encouraged contractors to achieve high standards."[160] In December 1992, Pei was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush.[161]

Personal life

Pei's wife of over seventy years, Eileen Loo, predeceased him on 20 June 2014.[162] They had three sons, T'ing Chung (1946–2003),[163] Chien Chung (b. 1946) and Li Chung (b. 1949), and a daughter, Liane (b. 1960). T'ing Chung was an urban planner and alumnus of his father's alma mater MIT and Harvard. Chieng Chung and Li Chung, who are both Harvard Graduate School of Design alumni, founded and run Pei Partnership Architects. Liane is a lawyer.[164] He celebrated his 100th birthday on 26 April 2017.[165]

See also



  1. ^ a b I.M. Pei Biography Archived 18 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine. – website of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
  2. ^ a b Boehm, p. 18.
  3. ^ Wiseman, pp. 29–30; Boehm, p. 17.
  4. ^ Wiseman, pp. 31–32; Boehm, p. 25.
  5. ^ a b Wiseman, p. 31.
  6. ^ Quoted in Wiseman, p. 31.
  7. ^ a b Wiseman, pp. 31–33.
  8. ^ Boehm, p. 22.
  9. ^ Boehm, p. 21.
  10. ^ Boehm, p. 25.
  11. ^ Boehm, p. 26.
  12. ^ Gonzalez, David. "About New York; A Chinese Oasis for the Soul on Staten Island". The New York Times. 28 November 1998. Accessed on 17 January 2011.
  13. ^ Boehm, pp. 33–34.
  14. ^ Wiseman, pp. 33–34.
  15. ^ Wiseman, p. 34.
  16. ^ Boehm, p. 34.
  17. ^ Wiseman, p. 35.
  18. ^ Boehm, p. 36.
  19. ^ a b Boehm, p. 36; Wiseman, p. 36.
  20. ^ Boehm, p. 40.
  21. ^ Boehm, pp. 40–41. Pei used the term "propaganda", which he believed to be value-neutral; his advisers disapproved.
  22. ^ Wiseman, p. 39; Boehm, pp. 36–37.
  23. ^ Quoted in von Boehm, p. 42; a slightly different wording appears in Wiseman, p. 39: "If you know how to build a building, you know how to destroy it."
  24. ^ Boehm, p. 42.
  25. ^ Wiseman, pp. 41–43; Boehm, pp. 37–40.
  26. ^ a b Quoted in Wiseman, p., 44.
  27. ^ Wiseman, p. 45.
  28. ^ Wiseman, pp. 48–49.
  29. ^ Wiseman, p. 51.
  30. ^ "I. M. Pei".
  31. ^ Wiseman, p. 52.
  32. ^ Wiseman, pp. 53–54.
  33. ^ Quoted in Wiseman, p. 61.
  34. ^ Wiseman, pp. 57–58.
  35. ^ a b Boehm, p. 52.
  36. ^ a b c Williams, 2005, p. 120; Moeller and Weeks, 2006, p. 59.
  37. ^ Wiseman, pp. 60–62.
  38. ^ Wiseman, pp. 62–64.
  39. ^ Boehm, p. 51.
  40. ^ The Canadian Encyclopedia online version
  41. ^ Quoted in Wiseman, p. 67.
  42. ^ Wiseman, p. 67.
  43. ^ Wiseman, pp. 66–68.
  44. ^ Quoted in Wiseman, p. 69.
  45. ^ Wiseman, pp. 69–71.
  46. ^ a b Boehm, p. 60.
  47. ^ Boehm, p. 59.
  48. ^ Wiseman, pp. 75–76.
  49. ^ Wiseman, p. 80.
  50. ^ Quoted in Wiseman, p. 79.
  51. ^ Wiseman, pp. 73, 86, and 90; Boehm, p. 61.
  52. ^ Wiseman, p. 94.
  53. ^ Wiseman, pp. 91 and 74.
  54. ^ History. 2009. New College of Florida. Retrieved on 12 November 2009.
  55. ^ Wiseman, pp. 96–98.
  56. ^ Quoted in Wiseman, p. 98.
  57. ^ Quoted in Wiseman, p. 99.
  58. ^ Wiseman, pp. 95 and 100.
  59. ^ a b Boehm, p. 56.
  60. ^ Wiseman, pp. 102–113.
  61. ^ Quoted in Wiseman, p. 113.
  62. ^ Wiseman, pp. 115–116.
  63. ^ Wiseman, p. 119.
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  • Diamonstein, Barbaralee. American Architecture Now. New York: Rizzoli, 1980. ISBN 0-8478-0329-5.
  • Heyer, Paul. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-01751-0.
  • Boehm, Gero von. Conversations with I. M. Pei: Light is the Key. Munich: Prestel, 2000. ISBN 3-7913-2176-5.
  • Wiseman, Carter. I. M. Pei: A Profile in American Architecture. New York: H.N. Abrams, 2001. ISBN 0-8109-3477-9.
  • Lenci, Ruggero. I. M. Pei: teoremi spaziali. Turin, Testo & Immagine, 2004. ISBN 88-8382-143-2.
  • Williams, Paul Kelsey. Southwest Washington, D.C. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia, 2005.
  • Moeller, Gerard M. and Weeks, Christopher. AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

External links

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