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Rethinking Pei: A Centenary Symposium

Gund Hall, Piper Auditorium
Thu., Oct. 12 – Fri., Oct. 13, 2017

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 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 14-15.

These two symposia are made possible with the generous support of the C Foundation.

Full list of speakers and program schedule:

Thursday, Oct. 12

6:30 p.m. Introductions and Opening Remarks

6:45 p.m. Roundtable: Emergence of a Modern Practice

Grace La, moderator

William Pedersen

Li Chung (Sandi) Pei

Shohei Shigematsu

Yvonne Szeto

8 p.m. Conclusion


Friday, Oct. 13

8:30 a.m. Breakfast

9:30 a.m. Panel 1: Technology

Eric Höweler, moderator

Janet Adams Strong: “Continuity and Change: Fine-face Concrete in Physical Manifestation of I. M. Pei’s Approach to Architecture”

Annette Fierro: “Effective Depths: Transparent Domains”

Brett Schneider: “Early Tall Structures in Context”

Leslie Robertson: “Bank of China, Miho Museum and Bridge, and Other Projects”

11:30 a.m. Lunch

12:30 p.m. Panel 2: Spatial and Formal Practices I

K. Michael Hays, moderator

Daniel M. Abramson: “Vexing Government Center”

Stuart Leslie: “I. M. Pei’s Modern Monastery: the NCAR Mesa Laboratory”

Thomas Leslie: “Brutal Grace: I. M. Pei’s Early Art Centers”

Delin Lai: “Defining the Present Perfect Tense of I. M. Pei’s Space”

2:30 p.m. Coffee Break

3 p.m. Panel 3: Power, Capital, and People

Seng Kuan, moderator

Edward Eigen: “I. M. Pei and the ‘Big Plan’: The Several Lives of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum”

André Bideau: “Between the Superblock and the Pyramid. I. M. Pei and Araldo Cossutta at La Défense”

Cole Roskam: “The Fragrant Hill Hotel: Reassessing the Politics of Tradition and Abstraction in China’s Early Reform Era”

Shirley Surya: “Pei’s Office and Singapore’s Urban Core: Corporate Architecture, Symbolic Aestheticization and Economic Pragmatism”

Kellogg Wong: “I. M. Pei & Partners, the Pei Team, and Singapore”

Gazette Classification: Art/Design, Conferences
Organization/Sponsor: Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Contact Info[email protected]

Thursday, October 12, 2017 (All day)