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Louvre pyramid architect Ieoh Ming Pei dies aged 102

The architect Ieoh Ming Pei, creator of the famous glass pyramid at the entrance of the Louvre Museum in Paris, has died at the age of 102.

His death was confirmed by his son, Li Chung Pei - also a well-known architect - in the New York Times.

Originally from China, Mr Ming Pei was born in Canton (now Guangzhou) in 1917. He left China to study architecture in the United States in 1935, and became an American citizen in 1954.

Most famous in Europe for designing the large glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris - which officially opened in 1989 - he also created a number of celebrated buildings in the USA and China. In 1983, he won the prestigious Pritzker Prize, which is often referred to as “the Nobel prize for architecture”.

After graduating, Mr Ming Pei went on to work as an assistant professor at Harvard University, before becoming director of architecture at the firm Webb and Knapp. In 1955, he created his own agency, I.M. Pei & Partners.

In 1983, then-French President François Mitterrand called on Mr Ming Pei to “rethink the Louvre” - despite the architect not being very well-known in France at that time.

The pyramid design divided opinion - with some even calling it “cultural profanity” and others suggesting it would “deface” the famous site. One critic asked, pejoratively: “What is this Chinese architect from America doing here with his super-modern Egyptian-inspired model?”

But Mr Ming Pei argued that it had in fact been influenced by the French landscape architect Le Notre, and was therefore quintessentially French in design.

Today, it is one of Mr Ming Pei’s most well-known works, and regularly praised for its modern, geometric design. The Museum is hosting a series of celebrations this year to honour the creation’s 30th anniversary.

The pyramid is not the only project Mr Ming Pei created in Europe; he also constructed a new wing of the German History Museum in Berlin (2003), and designed the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar (2008).

Some of the architect’s most well-known buildings in the USA include the Mile High Center, in Denver, Colorado, (1956); the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado (1967) and the  controversial John Hancock Tower in Boston (1973).

His work would later spread across the United States and beyond, and would include the Dallas City Hall in Texas (1978), the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston (1982), the Xiangshan Hotel in Beijing (1983), the Centre of Congress and Exhibition Hall in New-York (1985), the east building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington (1978), and the Bank of China in Hong Kong (1989).

Mr Ming Pei had been married to his wife Eileen for 72 years when she died in 2014. Their son T’ing Chun died in 2003, but Mr Ming Pei is survived by son Li Chung - also known as Sandi - another son, Chien Chung, known as Didi; and his daughter Liane, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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