I. M. Pei: Still Go Home Again
At the age of ninety, I M Pei has demonstrated that perhaps one can fulfill the promise of youth, and still go home again. — Carter Wiseman
(photo from PBS .org)
In 1935, I. M. Pei came to the United State in pursuing graduate studies. His goal was going back to help build future China after finishing his study. When the Chinese Communist took over, Pei had to choose to stay in the U.S. and became a U.S. citizen. He said, “It was very difficult for me to give up my Chinese citizenship.”
In 2000, Pei accepted the Suzhou Museum commission, he was 83 years old. He said that it was emotionally special to him since his family had the connection to Suzhou for over six hundred years. When he was a young boy, Pei used to go Suzhou from Shanghai (75 miles west) to visit his grandfather. For Pei, this commission was very much a way of going home. When the building was completed, Pei was almost 89 years old.
(photo wiki commons)
The museum has a gross floor area of 183,000 sq feet (17,000 sq m). Pei wanted the traditional Chinese garden to be part of the museum, thus he made an effort to locate 50 rocks in Shandong province (475.8 miles north of China) and had them shipped to Suzhou.
(Photos from Flicker)
In the words of his biographer, Pei has won “every award of any consequence in his art.” That includes the Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture. 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.”
(photo from PBS.org)
He is 96 years old today. Happy Birthday, Mr. Pei!
In 2008, Mr. Pei completed the Museum of Islamic Art, and he was 91 years old. He described it as his last major cultural building.
Pei wanted a stand-alone island for the structure to avoid the encroachment on other buildings. Thus, this museum was built on a man-made island (64 acres) above the water, approximately 195 feet (59 m) off the Doha Corniche.
Thank you for visiting!
Part I: An Architect of His Time
Part II: It Is A Work Of Our Time