Apr 18, 2020

Buildings by I.M. Pei

With everyone at home, now is the perfect time to learn about some of the unique aspects of the world including architecture. Ieoh Ming Pei, commonly known as I. M. Pei. The Chinese-American architect was 101 on April 26, 1917.  His designs range from the towering Bank of China in Hong Kong to FAA air traffic control towers in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport plus some others. He is known for his use of geometric shapes but each building is unique.  It is only fitting that many of his buildings house museums. Check out some of the following, many have online tours. 

1. Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY: I. M. Pei’s felt the museum should be more than just a container for art. It should be a sculptural work of art itself. The Everson was designed to be viewed from the outside from several viewpoints including looking for the entrance. It is to bring to mind a piece of sculpture set in a plaza, which today is a place to relax and reflect. 

2. East Building of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC: The 1978 museum brings to mind Pei’s Louvre design with two towering galleries and a rooftop terrace fronted by small glass pyramids. Pei had to take into consideration that the adjacent land was marked as the President’s inaugural route.

 3. Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art in Ithaca, NY: High above Cayuga’s water stands Cornell University and towering over the University is the main building of the museum which opened in 1973 providing stunning views of the area.  A new wing was later added, a small concrete block, to complete Pei’s original museum plan. The top two floors cantilever over an open-air sculpture garden.  The building can be seen from anywhere in Ithaca.

4.Museum of Islamic Arts, Doha, Qatar: Pei came out of retirement in 2008 to build this museum located on a man-made island. He spent six months traveling in the Middle East to immerse himself in the regions architectural traditions thus incorporating geometric forms that make up so much of Islamic art.

 5. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland: The Cleveland museum opened in 1995. It honors all aspect of rock-n’-roll and each year it inducts new members into its Hall of Fame. The glass fa├žade of the entrance brings to mind Pei’s Louvre but it is a sloping triangle not a pyramid. There are two cantilevered wings in white metal that project from either side of a tower. The design is to bring to mind a drum, a stack of 45’s and a speaker.

6. Eskenazi Museum of Art, Bloomindale, Illinois: Located on the campus of the University of Illinois the building was completed in 1982. The museum was constructed as a play on angles. It is rumored to have no right angles, however this is not true. The floors meet the walls at a ninety-degree angle, and there are many square and rectangular windows in the building

7. Louvre in Paris: The steel and glass pyramid is probably one of I. M. Pei’s most recognizable designs and is an international icon.  Constructed in 1993, the design caused much discussion as to the appropriateness of a modernistic structure as part of the French Renaissance-style museum complex. Pei said, “I received many angry glances in the streets of Paris. After the Louvre, I thought no project would be too difficult.

7. Eskenazi Museum of Art, Bloomindale, Illinois: Located on the campus of the University of Illinois the building was completed in 1982. The museum was constructed as a play on angles. It is rumored to have no right angles, however this is not true. The floors meet the walls at a ninety-degree angle, and there are many square and rectangular windows in the building

 Take this down time to learn about things and places you may not have known about.