it is Not as iconic as the celebrated glass pyramid of the Louvre in Paris, but there's a building designed by I. M. Pei , who symbolizes, as few have the exceptional skill with which this architect transformed the art scene world. In 1968 he was commissioned to design a building to house the collections of modern art in the annex of the National Gallery of Washington . Could not have most complex project: a new museum in a plot to form a trapezoid, at the foot of Capitol hill and its giant dome in a neoclassic style and surrounded by buildings or neo-Greek, as the main building of the National Gallery, or directly functionalist, such as the museum of NASA.
Pei, who died Thursday at 102 years of age at his home in New York, he decided that he would use that golden opportunity to elevate the modernist architecture of the pantheon who deserved it. With pink marble extracted from the same quarries in Tennessee that the facades adjoining, quick on her toes, a building of straight lines and triangular shapes which, when opened to the public in 1978, led to the ecstasy of the critics. the Paul Mellon , a philanthropist who donated $ 95 million of the time to build the building, described at the opening of "masterpiece, worthy and provocative, monumental, without being pompous".
As stubborn as a humble, Pei is obcecó in place the rational straight lines of architectural modernism in the most unexpected places. The project most challenging was the renovation of the courtyard entrance to the main galleries of the Louvre museum in Paris, in 1983 he was commissioned by the French president François Mitterrand . The teacher was inspired by his own creation in Washington, which has five glass pyramids to your front door that serve in addition of windows to the roof of the underground. Thus was born the pyramid of the Louvre, his work is universal.
The reaction, as is well known, was furious. Mitterrand is dubbed since the "pharaoh", by accepting such sacrilege in the heart of Paris. The newspaper "The New York Times" summed up the criticism in an article published in 1985: "it Is a joke of architecture, an eyesore, the imposition anachronistic of the funerary monuments egyptians in the very heart of Paris, a crazy megalómana imposed by mr. Mitterrand that behaves, according to his enemies, like a monarch who has gone through the ballot boxes." Today it is one of the most visited monuments of the city, so important to French history as to which Emmanuel Macron would give to him his victory speech in the presidential elections of 2017.
In his long career, Pei was an artist almost in spite of themselves. He could not —or would not— enter its name into the popular culture as they have Frank Gehry , Zaha Hadid , Renzo Piano or Frank Lloyd Wright . Had their followers and their detractors, but not aroused the passions of a Le Corbusier or Santiago Calatrava . Never filosofó about his vision of architecture and art. He rejected the label of modernist or postmodernist. He did not make policy. Only designed buildings.
The death of the architect in a hospital in Manhattan announced on Thursday evening his son, Li Chung Pei , which did not disclose the cause of death. On the 26th of April he had celebrated his 102nd birthday surrounded by his family.
Pei was born in the chinese province of Guangzhou in 1917, in the bosom of a wealthy family, and in 1935 he traveled by boat from Shanghai to San Francisco, from where he crossed across the U.S. to come to Philadelphia and study there architecture. Disenchanted with the education of type-classicist that he was receiving, he finished his studies at Harvard. After graduating, he joined the firm Webb & Knapp, and in 1955 he founded his own workshop, I. M. Pei & Associates.
The first buildings relevant of Pei, during the 60's, were groups of residential skyscraper in big cities like New York or Philadelphia, made of concrete with a characteristic grid of windows. Project in project, in 1965, his path crossed with that of Jackie Kennedy , looking for someone to design for Boston library and museum in honor of her late husband. Pei shared with John F. Kennedy birth year, which gave to the widow's hunch of who was the architect appropriate. The result of this order is the first great contribution of Pei to the world of art, a work clearly inspired by the creations of Oscar Niemeyer in Brasilia but that already anticipates their preference for the acute angles and the mix of marble and glass.
The personality of Pei would be printed in buildings that range from the most high, like the skyscrapers of bank of China in Shanghai, to creations more obvious and complacent, as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland, a museum to the modern music that rises around a large pyramid of glass and resists half-forgotten in one of the urban centers more stricken midwestern.
The last great creation of the maestro is a synthesis of his six decades in active: the set is polyhedral, which dominates the skyline of Doha, the capital of Qatar, and is home to the collection of islamic art in the emirate. Opened in 2008, is a testament to the ideal of Pei because the building imposes itself without effort to the uninspiring skyscrapers that rise up in front of him to the other side of the bay. As on other occasions, the architect needed no more than to unite the marble in straight lines to create a canvas that reflects all that is around you. Such simplicity only the was able to distill a genius.