The Man Who Shapes the Skyline

World-renowned architect and designer of prominent Dallas buildings I.M. Pei dies at 103

Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, who was known to many as the architect of such famous structures as the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, Boulder’s Mesa Laboratory, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston–as well as several notable Dallas buildings including Dallas City Hall–passed away in May at the age of 102.

Known for his “modernist” take on traditional architectural design, NPR points out that “Pei didn’t like labels, and said there’s no such thing as modern, postmodern, or deconstructivist architecture,” despite his own label.

Pei first started working in Dallas in 1964 when he was recruited by then acting mayor and co-founder of Texas Instruments Erik Jonsson, who approached Pei with a plan to help revitalize the city’s image in the wake of Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Though the project to build a new Dallas City Hall ended up taking 11 years to complete, the building met wide approval upon its official opening on March 12, 1978. It later attained worldwide notoriety as a stand-in for the OCP Headquarters building in the RoboCop movies of the 1980s.

Over the next decade, Pei with his firm I.M. Pei & Partners would continue to make a mark on the architecture of Dallas, designing downtown’s One Dallas Center skyscraper in 1979, Energy Plaza in 1983, the iconic Fountain Place in 1986, and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in 1989, widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest orchestra halls and designed to duplicate the acoustic properties of the Musikvereinsaal in Vienna and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, according to The New York Times.

One of the most decorated architects in history, Pei received “every award of any consequence in his art” according to his biography, including the “Nobel Prize of architecture,” the Pritzker Prize, as well as the AIA Gold Medal, Japan’s Praemium Imperiale for Architecture, a Medal of Liberty, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush.

REFERENCES:, The New York Times,, PHOTOS: Meyerson Symphony Center by Andreas Praefcke/ CC BY 3.0, Fountain Place by Joe Mabel/, CC BY-SA 3.0

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