Today, famed architect I.M. Pei turns 96. Born in Guangzhou, China, Pei came to the United States in 1935 to pursue higher education. He graduated from MIT with his Bachelors in Architecture in 1940 and from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in 1946.
Pei’s work is distinctly modernist with cubist tones and often features distinctive sweeping reflective glass facades. He is perhaps best known for the glass and steel pyramid at the Museé du Louvre in Paris, France—a controversial project completed in 1989 that has since become one of the most iconic modern buildings in France.
For more photos from I.M. Pei’s greatest works, check out their location pages below:
In 1978, as I applied to study film at the University of Illinois, my father vehemently objected. He quoted me a statistic: ‘Every year, 50,000 performers compete for 200 available roles on Broadway.’ Against his advice, I boarded a flight to the U.S. This strained our relationship. In the two decades following, we exchanged less than a hundred phrases in conversation.
Some years later, when I graduated film school, I came to comprehend my father’s concern. It was nearly unheard of for a Chinese newcomer to make it in the American film industry. Beginning in 1983, I struggled through six years of agonizing, hopeless uncertainty. Much of the time, I was helping film crews with their equipment or working as editor’s assistant, among other miscellaneous duties. My most painful experience involved shopping a screenplay at more than thirty different production companies, and being met with harsh rejection each time.