Born in Guangzhou, China, in 1917, Ieoh Ming Pei came to the United States at the age of seventeen to study architecture. He received a bachelor’s degree from MIT in 1940 and a master’s in 1946 from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he remained as an assistant professor until 1948.
Mr. Pei’s personal architectural style blossomed with his design for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado (1967), a sculptural complex composed of cast-in-place concrete, a material in which the firm had developed special expertise. At this time he also embarked on a series of museum projects – the building form with which he is now most closely identified – culminating in the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington (1978) and the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library in Boston (1979), both of which gained broad national attention. In all, he has designed more than a dozen museums, most notably the Grand Louvre in Paris (1989); Miho Museum in Shiga, Japan (1997); Suzhou Museum in Suzhou, China (2006); and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha (2008).
Beloved in France for his modernization of the Louvre, Mr. Pei was awarded the Grande Médaille d’Or of the Académie d’Architecture de France and is a Commandeur of the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur. For his service to the United States, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.