I. M. Pei

I. M. Pei
Ieoh Ming Pei.jpg
Pei in Luxembourg, 2006
Native name
貝聿銘 (bèi yù míng)
Born (1917-04-26) 26 April 1917 (age 101)
CitizenshipUnited States
Eileen Loo
(m. 1942; died 2014)
AwardsRoyal Gold Medal
AIA Gold Medal
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Pritzker Prize
Praemium Imperiale
PracticeI. M. Pei & Associates 1955–
I. M. Pei & Partners 1966–
Pei Cobb Freed & Partners 1989–
Pei Partnership Architects (Consultant) 1992–
BuildingsJohn 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
I. M. Pei
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Ieoh Ming Pei, FAIA, RIBA[1] (born 26 April 1917), commonly known as I. M. Pei, is a Chinese American architect. Born in Guangzhou 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.


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. Finding 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 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 (and not his brothers or 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]

Other Languages
العربية: آي إم بي
aragonés: Ieoh Ming Pei
asturianu: Ieoh Ming Pei
azərbaycanca: Bey Yuymin
Bân-lâm-gú: I. M. Pei
башҡортса: Юй Мин Бэй
беларуская: Бэй Юймін
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Юймін Бэй
български: Яу Мин Пей
bosanski: I. M. Pei
català: Ieoh Ming Pei
čeština: I. M. Pei
Cymraeg: I. M. Pei
dansk: I.M. Pei
Deutsch: Ieoh Ming Pei
Ελληνικά: Ι.Μ. Πέι
español: Ieoh Ming Pei
Esperanto: I. M. Pei
euskara: Ieoh Ming Pei
فارسی: آی.ام. پی
Fiji Hindi: I. M. Pei
français: Ieoh Ming Pei
Gaeilge: I. M. Pei
한국어: I. M. 페이
հայերեն: Յույ Մին Փեյ
hrvatski: I. M. Pei
Bahasa Indonesia: I. M. Pei
interlingua: Ieoh Ming Pei
íslenska: I. M. Pei
italiano: Ieoh Ming Pei
עברית: איי אם פיי
Kapampangan: I. M. Pei
ქართული: იუჰ მინ პეი
kernowek: I. M. Pei
Kiswahili: Ieoh Ming Pei
Latina: I. M. Pei
latviešu: Bei Juimins
Lëtzebuergesch: Ieoh Ming Pei
lietuvių: Ieoh Ming Pei
magyar: I. M. Pei
Malagasy: Ieoh Ming Pei
മലയാളം: ഐ.എം.പെയ്
Māori: I. M. Pei
मराठी: आय.एम. पेइ
Nederlands: Ieoh Ming Pei
norsk: I.M. Pei
norsk nynorsk: I.M. Pei
português: Ieoh Ming Pei
română: Ieoh Ming Pei
русский: Бэй Юймин
Scots: I. M. Pei
Simple English: I. M. Pei
slovenčina: Ieoh Ming Pei
slovenščina: Ieoh Ming Pei
српски / srpski: Јо Минг Пеј
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: I. M. Pei
suomi: I. M. Pei
svenska: I.M. Pei
Türkçe: Ieoh Ming Pei
українська: Бей Юймін
Tiếng Việt: Ieoh Ming Pei
Volapük: Ieoh Ming Pei
Winaray: I. M. Pei
粵語: 貝聿銘
žemaitėška: I. M. Pei
中文: 贝聿铭