I.M. Pei, a pillar of modern architecture, dies at 102

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Legendary architect IM Pei, who masterminded the famous Louvre pyramid in Paris, has died at the age of 102.

Perhaps Pei's most iconic structure, the glass and steel entrance pyramid of the Louvre Museum in Paris was completed in 1989; when it was first proposed, 90 percent of Parisians reportedly loathed it, though it has since become a beloved landmark.

He was also behind NY projects such as the Silver Towers of University Village on the West Side, Kips Bay Towers on the East Side and the 11-story building for the Mission of Korea on East 45th Street near UN Headquarters.

Pei, originally born in Guangzhou, China, in 1917, moved to the United States in 1935 to attend architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania.

Pei always referred to himself as an American architect, but he never forgot that he was also Chinese. He topped it off with a transparent tent-like structure, which was "open - like the music", he said. Two of his last major projects, the Museum of Islamic Art, located on an artificial island just off the waterfront in Doha, Qatar, and the Macau Science Center, in China, opened in 2008 and 2009.

The building was erected the same year that Pei officially retired, though he continued to work on projects.

Bank of China skyscraper in Hong Kong, China.

He was also awarded a number of other prizes throughout his lifetime, including the Praemium Imperiale for Architecture and the AIA Gold Medal.

U.S. president George Bush awarded Pei the Medal of Freedom that same year, when he was also elected an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

While the Fragrant Hill, or "Xiangshan", hotel is widely considered one of Pei's less successful works, he adapted the same concepts to the much-loved Suzhou Museum, situated in his family's southeastern ancestral home. His father worked as a banker and his mother was an artist.

On the most important, the Suzhou Museum in Suzhou, China, he collaborated with his architect sons, Chien Chung and Li Chung. His forms were recognizably derived from such great architects as Le Corbusier and Louis I. Kahn, though he filtered them through a unique artistic sensibility.

Pei dedicated energetic efforts to supporting the arts and education, serving on visiting committees at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Harvard and MIT as well as a range of United States government panels including the National Council on the Humanities and National Council on the Arts. A student of the revered Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer while at Harvard, Pei broke with his profession's gentile conventions when, in the late 1940s, he dared to start his career working for a real estate developer: the brash, larger-than-life William Zeckendorf.

Pei established his own architectural firm in 1955, a year after he became a US citizen.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Reuters and New York Times news reports.

Problems with the elaborate network of rods and spherical nodes that roof the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NY for a time brought waves of angry publicity as construction ground to a halt.

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