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Ieoh Ming Pei

Biography

This wholesome man in here that smiles in almost all of his pictures is Ieoh Ming Pei. He was a chinese-born american, born in April 1917, in the city of Guanzhou, China. After designing over 50 projects, he died at the age of 102 in New York City, USA.

After graduating from architectural engineering in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and being unable to return to Asia because of the WWII, Pei started to work in various projects on Boston, Los Angeles and New York City1. There, he joined the firm Webb & Knapp, which gave him the opportunity to work with William Zeckendorf (a real state developer who worked also with Le Corbusier, developing a significant part of the New York urban landscape)2.

Projects

Among the projects he made throughout his career, we can highlight buildings such as the emblematic Grand Pyramid of the Louvre Museum (Paris, France); the Suzhou Museum (Suzhou, China) , which he designed at the age of 85. In the last one, we can clearly see how traditional Chinese architecture had a big influence on his designs1. Another example of his use of traditional Chinese architecture on his buildings, is the Fragant Hill Hotel (Beijing, China) which makes a combination between traditional and modern architecture, something we can tell by the interior design of the building3.

Pei’s vission about architecture: quotes

«Architecture is the very mirror of life. You only have to cast your eyes on buildings to feel the presence of the past, the spirit of a place; they are the reflection of society.»

Ieoh Ming Pei4

Since I was a child, I’ve always had a big interest on art, specially on architecture. I liked to play guessing from which historical period a building was depending on its characteristics. To this day, I still do it sometimes with my boyfriend while walking the streets of Valencia. Another thing I also used to enjoy was to imagine myself living in those buildings, I imagined myself in those historical periods, interacting with those buildings not as some monument to visit, but as one more building on my daily life.

As I grew up, those hobbies somehow made me arrive to the same conclusion as Pei. I realized that architecture is indeed, the best way we have to connect with the past. That, if you learn to observe, to analize those buildings, you can tell so many things. Not just about the main characteristics of the building, but also about the people that designed it, the people that interacted with it.

For example: if you enter a baroque palace, let’s say the Wilanów palace (in Warsaw, Poland). The very first reaction you may have is to get amazed by the detail not only on the architectural elements, but in the paintings that decorate its walls, the many figures made up by the garden´s bushes, and so on. Anyways, if you go deeper and you start to analize all this detail, the liking for decoration, the use of rich matertials and the abundance of bright colours, I’m sure you will be able to imagine how the first owners of this apalace looked like. I imagine them as people with very large white peruques, dressed up with voluminous clothes decorated with golden details. I would also say that, high society in that era was made up by classist people that liked to stand out from others by dressing up ostentatiously, people that liked to go to many social events and had a preference for overloaded music. I can tell all those things (and I’m sure that I’m right with many of them) by just listening to the impression the building gives me, by feeling the aura of that building.

Even though those people are not there anymore, I like to say that a part of them will remain as longer as those buildings do. Because people come and go, but architecture stays forever, making their rememberance eternal.

Bibliography

1. https://www.britannica.com/biography/I-M-Pei

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Zeckendorf

3. https://artsandculture.google.com/story/suzhou-museum-an-i-m-pei-masterwork/ogLyr9NyQc6tKA

4. https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/205226.I_M_Pei

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