This Chinese-American architect is one of the most prolific contemporary architects. In 1935, he came to the U.S. to study architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design where he also taught. He became a U.S. citizen in 1954.
Pei first practiced architecture in Boston, and in the year 1955, he established his own firm in New York City. He soon received major commissions as Denver's Mile High Center in 1956. Pei's Kips Bay Plaza apartment towers in 1960-65 are much admired for their simplicity, as are many of his smaller buildings of grace and elegance, with the University of Hawaii's East-West Center in 1964 and the Everosn Museum of Art in 1968. Such large-scale urban developments as Place Ville Marie in 1963 and L'Enfant Plaza in 1967 are also terrific.
Many of Pei's large and expensive projects of the 1970s have met with criticism: the John Hancock Building in 1973 has been plagued with technical problems. The East Building of the National Gallery of Art in 1978 was called an elitist extravagance. Pei has continued to create chaste and beautiful buildings. In 1978, the Chinese government commissioned him to design a luxury hotel in Beijing. The Fragrant Hill Hotel was completed in 1983 and is a modest low-rise building that blends Chinese traditions and Western architecture styles. Pei stirred controversy with his design of a glass pyramid for the main entrance of the Louvre Museum, in Paris, which was completed in 1988. His angular 70-story Bank of China headquarters in the town of Hong Kong also attracted a lot of attention.
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