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Mapping I.M. Pei’s major works

An architecture legend

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Born in Guangzhou, China, in 1917, I.M. Pei moved to the United States at age 18 to pursue a career in architecture. The rest, of course, is history, with prominent commissions worldwide—including the celebrated Louvre pyramid, which won the AIA 25 Year Award in 2017—and a host of top honors, from the Pritzker Prize (1983) to the first Praemium Imperiale for architecture from the Japan Art Association (1989), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1993), and the Cooper Hewitt Design Award for Lifetime Achievement (2003).

The bespectacled blueprint master hasn't always enjoyed universal acclaim—his early attempts at city planning flopped and cost overruns were a near constant concern—but his many masterpieces are true icons of modern architecture. Here’s a look at 17 major works from Pei and his firm, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

—additional research by Alexandra Danna and Jenny Xie

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1. I.M. Pei House

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484 Mt Holly Rd
Katonah, NY 10536

Similar to Philip Johnson’s Glass House, this hyper-minimalist box was built by Pei in 1952 as his own weekend getaway. Nestled on a hilltop in Katonah, New York, the house enjoys seemingly endless panoramic views, despite being just an hour out of New York City.

2. William Slayton House

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3411 Ordway St NW
Washington, DC 20016

The second of only three private residences designed by Pei, the William Slayton House was completed in 1958 for a Washington, D.C. developer. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008, the house has 3,300 square feet beneath a vaulted concrete roof.

3. Pei Plan for Oklahoma City

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500 Couch Dr
Oklahoma City, OK 73102

In 1964, Pei began formulating a plan to redevelop the downtown core of Oklahoma City, aimed at addressing a lack of parking and restrictive lot sizes. The highly controversial plan called for demolishing hundreds of historic buildings and met much public opposition, but by 1980, the plan was largely realized.

4. National Center for Atmospheric Research

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1850 Table Mesa Dr
Boulder, CO 80305

Pei enjoyed more popular success with his design for the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The concrete towers feature so-called "crow’s nests," rooms for quiet contemplation with magnificent mountain views. It was completed in 1967.

LightRocket via Getty Images

5. Dallas City Hall

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1500 Marilla St
Dallas, TX 75201

Completed in 1978, Pei’s Dallas City Hall was designed as an inverted pyramid, a reflection of the space requirements—small for the public-facing offices on the ground floor, large for the administrative offices above. The glassy design also literally reflected an image of the city and people entering the seat of government.

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6. 200 Clarendon Street

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200 Clarendon St
Boston, MA 02116

Still the tallest building in New England, the building formerly known as the John Hancock Tower was actually designed by Pei’s partner Henry Cobb, but the controversy, stemming from cost overruns and glass-panel failures after its 1976 opening, fell squarely on Pei. 

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7. National Gallery of Art, East Building

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150 4th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

Linked to the original National Gallery of Art building by an underground passageway, Pei’s East Building combines intimate gallery spaces with a soaring central atrium that’s home to a giant Alexander Calder sculpture. Finished in 1978, the building recently reopened after a $69 million renovation.

UIG via Getty Images

8. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

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220 William T Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125

If the Hancock Tower dented Pei’s reputation in Boston, his design for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library was his redemption. Selected as the designer in 1964, Pei spent years on the project, which was finally completed in 1979. The architect is said to consider this his most important commission.

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9. Fragrant Hill Hotel

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40 Mai Mai Jie, Haidian Qu, Beijing Shi
China, 100093

In the late 1970s, Pei returned to his native China to design the Fragrant Hill Hotel, a luxury hotel amid the former imperial hunting grounds on the outskirts of Beijing. A surprisingly traditional structure, the hotel was completed in 1982 and in 1984 won an AIA National Honor Award.

10. Javits Center

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655 W 34th St
New York, NY 10001

Despite his growing popularity and success, Pei and his firm found themselves caught up in yet another controversial project with the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Due to cost overruns, the compromised design satisfied neither the architects nor the city of New York, which mentioned neither Pei nor project architect James Freed at the building’s dedication.

Shutterstock

11. Meyerson Symphony Center

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2301 Flora St
Dallas, TX 75201

Completed in 1989 and currently ranked among the finest orchestra halls in the world, the Meyerson Symphony Center was designed by Pei in conjunction with acoustics expert Russell Johnson. Seventy-four 2.5-ton concrete doors, 56 acoustical curtains, and a system of canopies are all used to improve acoustics.

Alamy Stock Photo

12. Bank of China Tower

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21 Des Voeux Rd Central
Central, Hong Kong

Following his Pritzker Prize win in 1983, Pei landed some even more impressive commissions, including the Bank of China tower, today an icon of the Hong Kong skyline. Completed in 1990, the angular glass tower was built on the site of historic Murray House, a Victorian-era structure that was moved, brick by brick.

Shutterstock

13. Pyramid for the Louvre Museum

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36 Rue du Louvre
75001 Paris, France

Far and away Pei’s most famous commission, this glassy pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre was notoriously controversial at the time of its 1989 completion. Today, the pyramid is an icon, and Pei’s innovative underground lobby design has become the model for several historic adaptations around the world.

Corbis via Getty Images

14. Four Seasons Hotel New York

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57 E 57th St
New York, NY 10022

Designed in collaboration with Frank Williams and frequent client William Zeckendorf, the Four Seasons Hotel New York is the second tallest hotel in New York and is topped by the epic Ty Warner Penthouse Suite, which I.M. Pei renovated in 2004. That suite now goes for $50,000 a night.

Shutterstock

15. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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1100 E 9th St
Cleveland, OH 44114

After a series of high-brow commissions, Pei brought the sloping-glass theme to Cleveland with his design for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Opened in 1995, the building houses gallery space, offices, and a concert venue.

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16. Miho Museum

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信楽町田代桃谷300
Kōka-shi, Shiga-ken

In the late 1990s, Pei traveled to Kyoto, Japan, to design what would become his favorite project, the Miho Museum. Built to house the private collection of Mihoko Koyama, the museum features a tunnel entrance, soaring glass ceilings, and the same stone Pei used to line the Louvre lobby.

17. Museum of Islamic Art

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Doha Expy
Doha, Qatar

Undeterred by age, in 2005 Pei plunged himself into the design for the Museum of Islamic Art, which he said would be his last major cultural building. The remarkable stacked-box design occupies a purpose-built manmade island in the Doha harbor.

UIG via Getty Images

1. I.M. Pei House

484 Mt Holly Rd, Katonah, NY 10536

Similar to Philip Johnson’s Glass House, this hyper-minimalist box was built by Pei in 1952 as his own weekend getaway. Nestled on a hilltop in Katonah, New York, the house enjoys seemingly endless panoramic views, despite being just an hour out of New York City.

484 Mt Holly Rd
Katonah, NY 10536

2. William Slayton House

3411 Ordway St NW, Washington, DC 20016

The second of only three private residences designed by Pei, the William Slayton House was completed in 1958 for a Washington, D.C. developer. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008, the house has 3,300 square feet beneath a vaulted concrete roof.

3411 Ordway St NW
Washington, DC 20016

3. Pei Plan for Oklahoma City

500 Couch Dr, Oklahoma City, OK 73102

In 1964, Pei began formulating a plan to redevelop the downtown core of Oklahoma City, aimed at addressing a lack of parking and restrictive lot sizes. The highly controversial plan called for demolishing hundreds of historic buildings and met much public opposition, but by 1980, the plan was largely realized.

500 Couch Dr
Oklahoma City, OK 73102

4. National Center for Atmospheric Research

1850 Table Mesa Dr, Boulder, CO 80305
LightRocket via Getty Images

Pei enjoyed more popular success with his design for the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The concrete towers feature so-called "crow’s nests," rooms for quiet contemplation with magnificent mountain views. It was completed in 1967.

1850 Table Mesa Dr
Boulder, CO 80305

5. Dallas City Hall

1500 Marilla St, Dallas, TX 75201
Getty Images

Completed in 1978, Pei’s Dallas City Hall was designed as an inverted pyramid, a reflection of the space requirements—small for the public-facing offices on the ground floor, large for the administrative offices above. The glassy design also literally reflected an image of the city and people entering the seat of government.

1500 Marilla St
Dallas, TX 75201

6. 200 Clarendon Street

200 Clarendon St, Boston, MA 02116
Getty Images

Still the tallest building in New England, the building formerly known as the John Hancock Tower was actually designed by Pei’s partner Henry Cobb, but the controversy, stemming from cost overruns and glass-panel failures after its 1976 opening, fell squarely on Pei. 

200 Clarendon St
Boston, MA 02116

7. National Gallery of Art, East Building

150 4th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
UIG via Getty Images

Linked to the original National Gallery of Art building by an underground passageway, Pei’s East Building combines intimate gallery spaces with a soaring central atrium that’s home to a giant Alexander Calder sculpture. Finished in 1978, the building recently reopened after a $69 million renovation.

150 4th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

8. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

220 William T Morrissey Blvd, Boston, MA 02125
Getty Images

If the Hancock Tower dented Pei’s reputation in Boston, his design for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library was his redemption. Selected as the designer in 1964, Pei spent years on the project, which was finally completed in 1979. The architect is said to consider this his most important commission.

220 William T Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125

9. Fragrant Hill Hotel

40 Mai Mai Jie, Haidian Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100093

In the late 1970s, Pei returned to his native China to design the Fragrant Hill Hotel, a luxury hotel amid the former imperial hunting grounds on the outskirts of Beijing. A surprisingly traditional structure, the hotel was completed in 1982 and in 1984 won an AIA National Honor Award.

40 Mai Mai Jie, Haidian Qu, Beijing Shi
China, 100093

10. Javits Center

655 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001
Shutterstock

Despite his growing popularity and success, Pei and his firm found themselves caught up in yet another controversial project with the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Due to cost overruns, the compromised design satisfied neither the architects nor the city of New York, which mentioned neither Pei nor project architect James Freed at the building’s dedication.

655 W 34th St
New York, NY 10001

11. Meyerson Symphony Center

2301 Flora St, Dallas, TX 75201
Alamy Stock Photo

Completed in 1989 and currently ranked among the finest orchestra halls in the world, the Meyerson Symphony Center was designed by Pei in conjunction with acoustics expert Russell Johnson. Seventy-four 2.5-ton concrete doors, 56 acoustical curtains, and a system of canopies are all used to improve acoustics.

2301 Flora St
Dallas, TX 75201

12. Bank of China Tower

21 Des Voeux Rd Central, Central, Hong Kong
Shutterstock

Following his Pritzker Prize win in 1983, Pei landed some even more impressive commissions, including the Bank of China tower, today an icon of the Hong Kong skyline. Completed in 1990, the angular glass tower was built on the site of historic Murray House, a Victorian-era structure that was moved, brick by brick.

21 Des Voeux Rd Central
Central, Hong Kong

13. Pyramid for the Louvre Museum

36 Rue du Louvre, 75001 Paris, France
Corbis via Getty Images

Far and away Pei’s most famous commission, this glassy pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre was notoriously controversial at the time of its 1989 completion. Today, the pyramid is an icon, and Pei’s innovative underground lobby design has become the model for several historic adaptations around the world.

36 Rue du Louvre
75001 Paris, France

14. Four Seasons Hotel New York

57 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022
Shutterstock

Designed in collaboration with Frank Williams and frequent client William Zeckendorf, the Four Seasons Hotel New York is the second tallest hotel in New York and is topped by the epic Ty Warner Penthouse Suite, which I.M. Pei renovated in 2004. That suite now goes for $50,000 a night.

57 E 57th St
New York, NY 10022

15. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

1100 E 9th St, Cleveland, OH 44114
Getty Images

After a series of high-brow commissions, Pei brought the sloping-glass theme to Cleveland with his design for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Opened in 1995, the building houses gallery space, offices, and a concert venue.

1100 E 9th St
Cleveland, OH 44114

16. Miho Museum

信楽町田代桃谷300, Kōka-shi, Shiga-ken

In the late 1990s, Pei traveled to Kyoto, Japan, to design what would become his favorite project, the Miho Museum. Built to house the private collection of Mihoko Koyama, the museum features a tunnel entrance, soaring glass ceilings, and the same stone Pei used to line the Louvre lobby.

信楽町田代桃谷300
Kōka-shi, Shiga-ken

17. Museum of Islamic Art

Doha Expy, Doha, Qatar
UIG via Getty Images

Undeterred by age, in 2005 Pei plunged himself into the design for the Museum of Islamic Art, which he said would be his last major cultural building. The remarkable stacked-box design occupies a purpose-built manmade island in the Doha harbor.

Doha Expy
Doha, Qatar