Tag archives for | I. M. Pei

Tag archives for: I. M. Pei

A Modern Masterpiece, No Longer Used, Will Soon Disappear at Kennedy Airport

While ABC has conspicuously begun to celebrate the early jet age, the Port Authority has begun to tear it down.

Terminal 6 at Kennedy International Airport — a crisp island of aesthetic tranquillity by the master architect I. M. Pei — is being demolished. The boarding gates are already piles of rubble.  The main pavilion, whose white steel roof seems to float ethereally over  cascades of diaphanous green glass, is expected to come down by the end  of October.

Though the demolition has long been planned, the timing now is  unintentionally paradoxical. With the recent debut of the ABC drama “Pan Am,”  it seems safe to say there has never been so much popular interest in  the jet-set era of the 1960s and early ’70s. National Airlines, perhaps  best remembered for christening its jetliners with women’s names and  inviting the public to “fly me,” opened Terminal 6 in 1969 as the  Sundrome.

Within it, Mr. Pei tried to create an environment for travelers that  was serene, generous, clear, spacious, simple and dignified, said Henry N. Cobb, a colleague at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in New York. To an extent that remains discernible today, he succeeded.  And by its horizontality, Terminal 6 still keeps open a welcome segment  of sky in the ever-more-congested central terminal area at Kennedy.

“It’s very sad,” Mr. Cobb said on Tuesday about the demolition. “The whole thing is very sad.”

Many architects speak of creating transparent spaces. Mr. Pei pulled  it off.

Sophisticated, subtle engineering made this transparency possible.  The main pavilion of Terminal 6 has a deep roof truss that rests on 16  enormous cylindrical concrete columns. That eliminated the need for  load-bearing walls, which allowed Mr. Pei to design a pioneering  all-glass enclosure. One can look straight through the building and out  the other side. Rain is drained off the roof through the columns,  eliminating the need for any visible ductwork.

In its classical restraint, Mr. Cobb said, Terminal 6 splendidly  complements the expressionistic bravura of Eero Saarinen’s landmark  Trans World Airlines Flight Center next door, which has been preserved and rehabilitated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, at a cost of more  than $20 million, and is to be incorporated into a hotel and conference  center planned on the site.

Mr. Cobb said the Terminal 6 pavilion is “structurally sound and has proved highly adaptable to changing demands throughout four decades of use” by National, which was acquired in 1980 by Pan American World Airways; by T.W.A., as an annex to the Saarinen terminal; and, finally, by JetBlue Airways, which moved into its own terminal in 2008.

Nine months ago, Mr. Cobb pleaded for a “reversal of this death sentence” from David Barger, the president and chief executive of JetBlue. “Conserved and reanimated, the Terminal 6 pavilion would further strengthen the distinctive identity of JetBlue as a sponsor of design excellence and an effective advocate for a sustainable future,” Mr. Cobb wrote. “I. M. Pei joins me in thanking you for your consideration of this request.”

No reprieve was forthcoming. “While I share your passion for classic terminal designs, I have concluded the time has passed for the pavilion building to serve any functional purpose,” Mr. Barger wrote back. He thanked Pei Cobb Freed “for your influence on JetBlue’s first decade” and promised to champion a “permanent display of the pavilion photographs and other architectural artifacts so future generations can continue to appreciate the beauty of Terminal 6.”

National took out a full-page ad in The New York Times of Dec. 2, 1969 to announce the opening of the terminal.

The Port Authority said the Terminal 6 site must be cleared to make room for “improvements that will better serve travelers and help reduce delays,” meaning additional boarding gates and aircraft parking spots for JetBlue’s Terminal 5. Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the authority, said that maintaining a vacant Terminal 6 was costing the authority $600,000 a year.

Given Mr.Pei’s stature — he is perhaps best known for the pyramid-crowned addition to the Louvre — the demolition of Terminal 6 may rank as the most significant loss of a transportation building in New York since Pennsylvania Station was razed in the 1960s.

Source: The NYT

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Campus Shuffle in Greenwich Village

New York University to spread over two million square feet around I’M Pei’s Silver Towers site.

Aerial View Of NYU’s Expansion Plans With The Silver Towers On The Left.  Courtesy NYU

On March 16, NYU announced updates for their latest expansion plan, part of NYU 2031, that seemed to say the University had heard the public’s criticism and was ready to be a nicer neighbor. Previously, the school proposed a 400-foot tower on the Silver Towers site, where three concrete towers designed by I. M. Pei and completed in 1966 currently stand; two are owned by NYU while the third is a is a middle-income cooperative. In the new rendition, the proposed fourth Silver Tower is gone. This hotel/residence raised an outcry before being scrapped in November and has now been replaced in part by something called the Morton Williams tower, a 14-story building structure for the site on the corner of Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place currently occupied by a Morton Williams supermarket. This will be a two-tiered building with a seven-story public NYC school below and seven stories of dorms above.

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This looks like a job for Frank Gehry

YOU build it, will they come? That’s the basic question motivating plans to develop grand culture centres in otherwise derelict urban neighbourhoods. The idea is savvy: hire architects to build something beautiful (or at least something big), and then let the related businesses follow. This approach to urban rejuvenation—dubbed the “Bilbao effect” after Frank Gehry’s transformation of the Spanish city—has yielded some success stories, such as DC’s Penn Quarter (thank you Abe Pollin) and Minneapolis’s Mill District (the Guthrie Theatre is something else). Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District has essentially applied economic shock paddles to an entire area. But what about Dallas?

More than 30 years and $1 billion in the making, the Dallas Arts District is a 19-block area of museums and performance halls. It glitters with impressive buildings, including the handiwork of four Pritzker prize winners (I.M. Pei, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas). But Blair Kamin, the architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, is not impressed. Alas, despite the “architectural firepower”, it is an “exceedingly dull place”:

There are no bookstores, few restaurants outside those in the museums and not a lot of street life, at least when there are no performances going on. Even some of the architects who’ve designed buildings here privately refer to the district as an architectural petting zoo—long on imported brand-name bling and short on homegrown-urban vitality.

Part of the problem is that Dallas lacks urban density, particularly in this area, so inevitably fewer people are milling about. Another hitch is that the buildings themselves are essentially competing beautiful fortresses—designed as grand monuments, not inviting public spaces. Some locals complain that they are clearly built for folks who drive in for a bit of culture and then drive away. Mr Kamin suggests that plans for a new park, which will bridge a sunken freeway and connect the district with a buzzier neighbourhood to the north, should create more pedestrian traffic when it opens in late 2012. Otherwise, he warns, Dallas may have just created “the dullest arts district money can buy.”

But surely it is possible to spend even more money to create an even duller arts district. Let’s take a moment to consider Saadiyat Island, the sprawling arts development taking shape in Abu Dhabi. Like the arts district in Dallas, Abu Dhabi has imported a series of bling-bling names for some serious starchitecture. Frank Gehry has designed the new $800m outpost of the Guggenheim (pictured top; 12-times the size of the New York flagship and in need of a new art collection by 2015); Jean Nouvel, the Pritzker-winner who designed the Guthrie Theatre, is creating the Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre; Norman Foster is designing a museum of national history; and the matter of density may be solved by new luxury resorts and villas. As for bookstores and cafe culture, surely the mesmerising mess of the Gehry building will make it impossible to read and unnecessary to caffeinate.

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi has been in the news a lot lately, owing to a possible boycott of more than 130 artists over the working conditions of those charged with erecting these modern temples. But setting aside this public-relations disaster, which could significantly hamper the Guggenheim’s work in filling this museum, the Saadiyat complex poses a larger question: will people come? Is it enough to build these gigantic monuments to modernity (in an otherwise not-so-modern and remote place) and assume that the razzle-dazzle will lure the tourists? Dallas’s experiment illustrates the flaws in developments that consider the needs of architecture at the expense of people. A culture district without the glue of wandering pedestrians (or an atmosphere of working artists; or let’s face it, streets) may struggle to earn its keep.

Via The Economist

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I. M. Pei to Receive British Royal Gold Medal

Via Bustler

Chinese-born American architect I. M. Pei, who is best known in Europe for his transformation of the Louvre in Paris, has been named today as the recipient of one of the world’s most prestigious architecture prizes, the Royal Gold Medal.


Laureate of the British Royal Gold Medal: I. M. Pei (Photo: Owen Franken)

Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by the Queen of England and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence “either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture”.

I. M. Pei is one of the most prolific architects of all time having completed over 170 projects and more than 50 master plans. At the age of 92, he remains actively engaged in architecture. His work easily spans the divide between commercial and cultural architecture, and he is equally respected and sought after by clients in all fields.


Glass Pyramid at the Louvre in Paris, France by I. M. Pei (Photo: pmorgan)

Ieoh Ming Pei (always known as I. M.) is a Chinese American architect, born in China in 1917. He traveled to the United States in 1935 to study architecture, and never returned to live in his home country. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received a Masters degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he studied under Gropius and Breuer, coming under the influence of the International Style which was to inspire his work for almost 70 years. His first commission was for the noted planner-developer William Zeckendorf: the Miesian Mile High Center in Denver. He set up his own practice in 1955. His best known buildings are probably the National Center for Atmospheric Research Boulder, Colorado (1961-67), the East Wing of the National Gallery Washington DC (1968-78), the John F Kennedy Library, Boston (1965-79), the Bank of China, Hong Kong (1982-89), the Grand Louvre expansion and renovation (1983-93) and the Miho Museum in Shiga, Japan (1991-97). In recent years he has completed major museum projects in Luxembourg, China and Qatar. His only building in the UK is a private commission: a tiny pavilion in Wiltshire.

Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historic Museum) in Berlin, Germany. Extension premises by I. M. Pei (Photo: Mazbln)

Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historic Museum) in Berlin, Germany. Extension premises by I. M. Pei (Photo: Mazbln)

I. M. Pei has been honored by America, France, Germany, Japan and the UK where he is an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts (1993). He has been awarded the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Medal for Architecture (1976); the American Institute of Architects – the Gold Medal (1979); the American Academy of Arts & Letters – Gold Medal for Architecture (1979); La Grande Médaille d’Or of l’Académie d’Architecture, France (1981), the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1983); the Praemium Imperiale for lifetime achievement in architecture, Japan (1989); Officier de La Légion d’Honneur, France (1993) and the Thomas Jefferson Medal for distinguished achievement in the arts, humanities, or social sciences (2001).

Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong by I. M. Pei (Photo: WiNG)

Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong by I. M. Pei (Photo: WiNG)

Speaking from New York, I. M. Pei said of the honour,

‘It is a great honor to receive the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. I am humbled indeed to read the names of those who have preceded me as recipients. I look forward to attending the ceremony in February, and to thanking personally RIBA President Ruth Reed and the Honors Committee, and David Adjaye, who nominated me.’

I. M. Pei was nominated for the 2010 Royal Gold Medal by David Adjaye. His citation concludes with a personal tribute: ‘When I began my studies in architecture, I. M. Pei was already a giant in the cannon of greats. His work seemed effortlessly capable of creating extraordinary clarity out of complex and conflicting demands. His is an agile ability, working with Heads of State, Kings and Queens, “hard nosed” developers and non profit institutions, in each case creating revealing, extraordinary works of precision with quality and detail.

‘I remember as a young student first visiting the Louvre in Paris and marveling at its extraordinary ability to unify and modernize what was a much loved but disparate institution and behold its magnificent, gravity defying, glass pyramid. He became a role model for me as a young architect.’

RIBA President Ruth Reed, who chaired the Honors Committee which selects to Royal Gold medal winner said,

“Chairing the Honors Committee was my very first duty as President and it was an honor for me too. The Royal Gold Medal is a most auspicious award and we have chosen in I. M. Pei a very special winner. He is one of the greats of 20th – and 21st – century architecture; a man whose work I have always admired. A list of his influences and those he has influenced reads like a roll-call of the Modern Movement. Seldom has such a reward been so overdue or so just.”

I. M. Pei will be presented with the Royal Gold Medal on February 11, 2010 at a ceremony at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, when the 2010 RIBA International and Honorary Fellowships will also be presented.

The Royal Gold Medal was inaugurated by Queen Victoria in 1848 and is conferred annually by the Sovereign on ‘some distinguished architect for work or high merit, or on some distinguished person whose work has promoted either directly or indirectly the advancement of architecture.’

Previous winners have included Sir Charles Barry, Sir George Gilbert Scott, Alfred Waterhouse, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Charles Voysey, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Kenzo Tange, Ove Arup, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, Louis Kahn, James Stirling, Berthold Lubetkin, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Oscar Niemeyer, Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas, Toyo Ito and Alvaro Siza.

This year’s RIBA Honors Committee was chaired by the President of the RIBA, Ruth Reed with David Adjaye OBE, architect, Adjaye Associates; Edward Cullinan CBE, architect, Edward Cullinan Architects; Max Fordham, Environmental Engineer, Max Fordham Partnership; Anne Lacaton, architect, Lacaton & Vassal (Paris); and Laura Lee, Client, Maggie’s.

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