2019-05-18 05:29:14 source: Zhejiang News; Translation: In Zhejiang
Leoh Ming Pei（Photo/VCG）
Leoh Ming Pei, a world-reputed Chinese-American architect, passed away on May 16 at the age of 102.
Born in Guangzhou Province and raised in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Pei drew inspiration at an early age from the architectures in China. Pei's masterpieces, celebrated throughout the world of architecture, won him the title "The Last Master of Modern Architecture".
“The most beautiful architecture should withstand the test of time. And the answer lies in time,” as Pei said before. The glass-and-steel pyramid for the Musée du Louvre still shines in Paris, while the Museum of Suzhou in his ancestral home, displays to this day the beauty of Chinese classics and modern sense.
After Pei graduated from the senior high school at 17, his father wished him to go to the UK to study economics. Pei, however, became keenly interested in architecture. 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 to study architectural engineering. At 27, he sought after further education with the Harvard University.
Pei embarked on a legendary career after graduation. For more than 70 years, the master architect brought brilliant works to the world, including the Louvre Pyramid, the John F. Kennedy Library, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, and the Museum of Suzhou.
Pei's style was described as modernist, with significant cubist themes. He was known for combining traditional architectural principles with progressive designs based on simple geometric patterns—circles, squares, and triangles are common elements of his work in both plan and elevation.
According to a rough estimation, Pei designed more than a hundred large architectures and won a wide variety of prizes and awards in the field of architecture. In 1979, the year after the National Gallery was completed, Pei received the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, its highest honor. The Institute declared that year the “Year of Pei”. In 1983, he won the Pritzker Prize, which is sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture.
At the mention of his masterworks, many of you must have been reminded of his Louvre pyramid. Yet, the design was denied by many French people in the beginning. Some believed that Pei had ruined the looks of “French Beauty”.
In face of pressure, he ignored the doubts and insisted on improving the design until it was created. He said, “An architect must have his own style and ideas. Otherwise, he would be forgotten by history.” Finally, the design won a huge success and became a symbol of Paris. French people even praised it as a “huge diamond flying out of the Louvre”.
Later, his fine works including the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts and National Gallery East Building, Washington, DC, made him well-known to every household in the United States.
As a Chinese-American architect, Pei has designed several classical architectures for China, including the headquarters of Bank of China, Xiangshan Hotel, Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong. Pei once said, “The more national, the more global.”
After having retired for more than a dozen years, he designed the New Museum of Suzhou for his ancestral hometown. Fully respecting the features of Suzhou gardens, Pei sought to combine new design elements with the classical Chinese aesthetic, turning the architecture into one of the liveliest places in the city.
Louvre Pyramid (Photo/VCG)
The John F. Kennedy Library （Photo/VCG）
After John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, his family discussed how to construct a library that would serve as a fitting memorial. Eventually, Jacqueline chose Pei to design the library.
The National Gallery, Washington, DC, USA (Photo/VCG)
The Miho Museum in Japan （Photo/VCG）
Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, China (Photo/VCG)
Beijing Xiangshan Restaurant (Photo/VCG)
Museum of Suzhou (Photo/VCG)
At the opening ceremony of the Museum of Suzhou, Pei said, “73 years ago I left China, but my root is in Suzhou and China. The new museum can be considered as a trivial contribution to my hometown.”
(Executive Editor: Yongliu He)