The AvantGarde Architecture Of IM Pei Essay

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The Avant-Garde Architecture Of I.M. Pei Essay, Research Paper The Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei (I.M) is known as one of the greatest architects of the Twentieth Century. His long, brilliant career was highlighted by several internationally famous structures. While many of Pei?s buildings were generally accepted by the public, some of them precipitated fair amounts of controversy. The most notable of these controversial structures is his Glass Pyramid at the entrance of the Louvre in Paris. For these reasons, I.M. Pei seems to be an architect who exhibits interest in the avant-garde through both the creative design and aestheticism of his architecture. Pei was born in China in 1917 and immigrated to the United States in 1935. He originally attended the University

of Pennsylvania but grew unconfident in his drawing skills so he dropped out and pursued engineering at MIT. After Pei decided to return to architecture, he earned degrees from both MIT and Harvard. In 1956, after he had taught at Harvard for three years, he established I.M. Pei & Partners, an architectural firm that has been known as Pei Cobb Freed & Partners since 1989. This firm is famous for its successful and rational solutions to a variety of design problems. They are responsible for many of the largest pubic and private construction projects in the second half of this century. Some of these projects include the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in

Cleveland. When French President Francois Mitterand ?personally selected Mr. Pei in 1983 to design the Grand Louvre to give air, space, and light to one of the world?s most congested museums,? (Markham, 1989) there were many critics. The press ?lambasted the idea of shattering the harmony of the Louvre?s courtyard with a glass iceberg? (Markham, 1989). But Pei proceeded as planned, taking a major risk in creating a glass pyramid structure at the entrance. He did not focus on what the critics would say about his plans, but hoped that the world would see, upon completion, that his vision of a contemporary, functional entrance would not clash with the Baroque style of the Louvre itself. When the pyramid was completed in 1989, Pei?s expression of avant-garde art was not entirely

accepted. Many critics praised the aspiration with which the architect designed it, but ridiculed many aspects of its functionality: ?The practical problem is that the Pyramid, once you get inside, is noisy, hot, and disorienting? (Campbell, 1989). Fortunately, most critics consider it to be ?architecture made with passion, architecture as sculpture and as three-dimensional geometry ? less then user-friendly, perhaps, but impressive nonetheless? (Campbell, 1989). Many critics, along with the majority of the Parisian public, had much more positive opinions of the pyramid after its completion. For tourists, ?the days of searching for the Louvre?s entrance are over. It?s hard to miss the 70-foot transparent pyramid rising gracefully between the museum?s two main wings.? Also, its

functionality is appreciated for ?reducing the distance that visitors once had to walk from one end of the U-shaped Louvre to the other? (Associated Press, 1989). Looking at the example of Pei?s glass pyramid it is evident that his work was influenced by Walter Gropius, one of his teachers at Harvard. In particular, Pei?s mastery of geometrical shapes and talent in working with steel and glass bears resemblance to Gropius?s vision of ?total architecture? that he set forth in the Bauhaus: ?We want to create . . . an architecture whose function is clearly recognizable in the relation of its form. . . . At the same time the symmetrical relationship of parts of the building . . . is being replaced by a new conception of equilibrium which transmutes this dead symmetry of similar parts