Rethinking Pei: A Centenary Symposium

A two-part symposium examining the work and life of I. M. Pei from multiple vantage points. Organized by the Harvard GSD with M+, Hong Kong, and the Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong.

Ieoh Ming Pei is one of the most celebrated yet under-theorized architects of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Although Pei’s six-decade career is mostly identified with his unwavering interest in cultural synthesis and the power of pure geometrical form, his modes of practice demand further investigation of their intertwinement with the multiple historical and discursive moments of modern architecture. The two-day symposium will include panel discussions and scholarly presentations that showcase new research on Pei’s manifold contributions to the built environment. Notable alumni from Pei’s office, including William Pedersen, will discuss the emergence of a new kind of architectural practice in the postwar era. Among the topics to be addressed in the paper sessions are technological innovations with concrete, the glass curtain wall, and structural designs; Pei’s longstanding affinities for China’s landscape and vernacular traditions; his legacy on major urban spaces in Boston and other cities around the world; and the increasingly global and transnational conditions of architectural production that Pei successfully navigated. 
Organized with M+, the new museum for visual culture being built in Hong Kong, this symposium is part of a yearlong celebration of the 100th birthday of Ieoh Ming (I. M.) Pei MArch ’46. Both I. M. and his wife, Eileen Pei GSD ’44, studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, as did their sons Chien Chung (Didi) Pei, AB ’68, MArch ’72, and Li Chung (Sandi) Pei, AB ’72, MArch ’76. Pei was also an assistant professor of architecture at the GSD. In March the GSD held a panel discussion, led by Harry Cobb AB ’47, MArch ’49, which focused on the formative years of I. M. Pei’s career as well as some of his special friendships, influences, and projects.

A second symposium, co-organized by M+ and the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong, will be held in Hong Kong on December 13-14.
These two symposia are made possible with the generous support of the C Foundation.

Full list of speakers and full schedule to come.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the events office at (617) 496-2414 or events@gsd.harvard.edu.