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Ieoh Ming Pei, Pritzker Prize Laureate

b. 1917


I.M. Pei

I.M. Pei

Photo by L.C. Pei courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee
The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University

I.M. Pei and John L. Sullivan III, Lead Designers / Photo © Jackie Craven
John Hancock Tower in Boston, Massachusetts

John Hancock Tower in Boston, Massachusetts

Copyright © Mary Ann Sullivan - Digital Imaging Project

I.M. Pei is known for using large, abstract forms and sharp, geometric designs. His glass-clad structures seem to spring from the high tech modernist movement. However, Pei is more concerned with function than theory. His works often incorporate traditional Chinese symbols and building traditions.


April 26, 1917 in Canton, China


  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    B. Arch. 1940
  • Harvard Graduate School of Design
    M. Arch. 1946

Professional Experience:

  • National Defense Research Committee, 1943–1945
  • Harvard Graduate School of Design, Assistant Professor, 1945–1948
  • Webb & Knapp, Inc., Director of Architecture, 1948–1955
  • I. M. Pei & Associates, 1955–1966
  • I. M. Pei & Partners, 1966–1989
  • Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, 1989–1990
  • Pei Partnership Architects, 1992-

Important Buildings:

Related People :


"I believe that architecture is a pragmatic art. To become art it must be built on a foundation of necessity." — I.M. Pei, from his acceptance speech for the 1983 Pritzker Architecture Award.

More About I. M. Pei:

In Chinese, Ieoh Ming means "to inscribe brightly." The name Pei's parents gave him proved prophetic. Over the past fifty years, Ieoh Ming Pei has designed more than fifty buildings around the world, ranging from industrial skyscrapers and important museums to low income housing.

Pei grew up in Shanghai, but in 1935 he moved to the United States to study architecture and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later at Harvard University. Pei is a naturalized citizen of the United States.

To learn more about I.M. Pei and his Asian roots, see the PBS American Masters documentary, I.M. Pei: Building China Modern.

Also see Movies About Famous Architects >>>

Awards and Honors:

  • Pritzker Architecture Prize (1983). With the Pritzker prize money, Pei established a scholarship for Chinese students to study architecture in the United States providing they return to China to practice architecture.
  • Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA)
  • Corporate Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • National Academy of Design
  • American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters
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