Having admired and studied the field of architecture I have a deep respect for the work of architect I.M. Pei. In my book, he is considered one of the great masters of modern architecture. He was born in China in 1917 as Ieoh Ming Pei and moved to New York to study architecture where he established his first architectural firm in 1955. Today marks his 99th birthday. If you aren’t familiar with his name I will venture to guess you are definitely familiar with at least a couple of his most notable architectural commissions which I am sharing with you today. It wasn’t until I put this post together that I realized there were some striking resemblances between the two projects with the expansive use of steel, glass and geometric forms.
In the 1970’s the Musée du Louvre struggled with declining attendance and opted to make some improvements to modernize the facility. I.M. Pei was commissioned to create the large glass pyramid you see situated in front of the museum today. The pyramid marks the location of the main entrance to the museum and is also flanked by three smaller glass pyramids. Inaugurated in 1989, I.M. Pei’s Pyramid was originally designed to receive 4.5 million visitors and has become a Parisian landmark. Twenty years later, annual museum attendance has nearly reached the 10 million mark. In late June 2014, the Musée du Louvre embarked on what would be its biggest construction project in the coming few years to accoodate the growing attendance. A good problem to have, but one I am sure they never envisioned.
The two pictures below were taken by me in 1993 on a trip to Paris when I turned 21. I am amazed at how photography has advanced over the years…as well as my photography skills!
Another project designed by I.M. Pei is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts. The picture below was taken in 1973 and shows members of the Kennedy family (Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Edward M. Kennedy, and Caroline Kennedy) looking at one of the proposed models for the future Presidential Library designed by I.M. Pei. (Image via the Boston Globe)
This is the main entrance to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. It was dedicated in 1979.
These last two pictures were taken by me during two separate trips to the Library, most recently in Fall 2015. The Library features a large glass atrium that overlooks the harbor. It is a focal point of the space and is a great gathering place for events. The play of light and shadow in this space is amazing and changes throughout the day.
It’s late in the day but better late than never…Happy Birthday, I.M. Pei…all the best to you!