Day 17/365 of Steel – Ieoh Ming Pei

I.M. Pei was born on 26 April 1917. Best known for designing the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the glass pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre in Paris, Mr. Pei was one of the few architects who were equally attractive to real estate developers, corporate chieftains and art museum boards. And all of his work — from his commercial skyscrapers to his art museums — represented a careful balance of the cutting edge and the conservative. Pei was inspired by the innovative designs of the new International Style, characterized by simplified form and the use of glass and steel.

Pyramide du Louvre

The Louvre Pyramid at night
Fig 1: The Louvre Pyramid at night

Mr. Pei would make his biggest international mark in France, with a smaller but far more contentious project than any of his previous buildings. Mr. Pei proposed building a glass pyramid in the center of the ancient Cour Napoleon to serve as a new main entrance to the museum. He quickly found himself in the center of an international controversy, accused of defacing one of the world’s great landmarks.

The Louvre Pyramid
Fig 2: The Louvre Pyramid
Photo: Benh LIEU SONG

He argued that his glass pyramid was merely an updated version of a traditional form, and that his redesigned courtyard had been influenced by the geometric work of the French landscape architect Le Notre. It was rigorously rational, in other words, and in that sense classically French.
I.M. Pei won the Pritzker price in 1983.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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