9 of I.M. Pei's Most Beautiful Buildings
A prize-winning architect, Pei has revolutionized the design scene with his whimsical and enigmatic structures, from the Louvre Pyramid in Paris to Ohio's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To celebrate his work, we've put together a collection of our favorite buildings by this artist of structure and space.
Miho Museum, Kyoto, Japan
Completed in 1997, the Miho Museum is intriguing because of its location in the Kyoto mountains. With hills and forests to work around, three-quarters of the building are designed underground or into the mountain. Pei explained that this was part of his vision: "Japan's architects in the distant past strove to bring their buildings into harmony with their environment [...] I think you can see a very conscious attempt on my part to make the silhouette of the building comfortable in the natural landscape."
Musée D'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Mudam), Luxembourg
Pei began work with the Dutch museum in 1997 and completed the project in 2006. Pictured is the first floor, with its massively impressive skylight.
The Louvre Pyramid, Paris
In the 1980s, Pei was selected to complete a renovation of the Louvre and tasked with transforming a massive and drafty 16th-century palace into a modern museum. In addition to the centerpiece pyramid, Pei also reconfigured the warren of royal rooms into functional galleries, shops, and public spaces. When the pyramid opened in 1989, it was a revelation (albeit a controversial one)—a classic form rendered ethereal in glass and steel that had the great practical advantage of making the museum a pleasant place to visit for the millions of tourists who make the annual pilgrimage. "After the Louvre," Pei said, "I thought no project would be too difficult."
First Church of Christ, Boston
In the 1960s, Pei was hired to design a plaza outside the First Church of Christ. It includes a fountain and a reflecting pool that spans across a 200-yard strip. In 1971, he added a Sunday school building.
Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong
Built in 1982, the Tower remained the tallest building in Asia until 1992. It has an unusual configuration composed of four triangular shapes and dominates the flat buildings that surround it.
Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum), Berlin
In 2003, Pei completed the Exhibition Hall for the German Historical Museum. The extension holds temporary exhibits and plays with the sunlight that shines through the three-story glass walls. Pei referenced the building's intriguing effects in an interview with a German newspaper: "Architecture should seduce people to move through the whole building full of curiosity and pleasure."
Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar
Coming out of retirement to build this masterpiece, Pei finished the project in 2008 when he was 91 years old. The museum is built 60 meters offshore, on a man-made island in the Arabian Gulf. Pei said he Arabic desert was his inspiration: "The desert sun plays a fundamental role, transforming the architecture into a play of light and shadows."
John F. Kennedy Library, Massachusetts
Selected by Jackie Kennedy herself, Pei began working on the library in 1964. It was one of his first large-scale projects and cemented his international reputation.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ohio
Easily one of Pei's most original structures, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame stands tall with a 162-foot tower and an adjacent glass pyramid. The building has seven levels and has a waterfront view of Lake Erie.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the