I.M. Pei was a world-renowned architect who passed away on Thursday at 102 years old. Pei is responsible for designing some of the most recognizable buildings in the world including the Louvre’s pyramid entrance, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH, and the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong. Pei was born in Suzhou, China in 1917 and moved to the United States as a teenager in 1935 to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His buildings inspired an entire generation of architects and he left an indelible mark on cities around the world.
Pei has 4 children including his 2 sons Li Chung Pei, Chien Chung Pei, T’ing Chung, and one daughter, Liane Pei. He also has 7 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. I.M. Pei came from a wealthy family
The Pei’s were a wealthy landowning family in Suzhou before I.M. moved to the United States. His father, Tsuyee Pei, was a successful banker at the Bank of China and managed its head office in Shanghai. He moved to the United States and became the Bank’s General Manager in 1941. He was an expert in Chinese monetary policy and held several official government positions including being a member of the Sino-British Stabilization Board, a member of the Chinese delegation that participated in the U.N. Monetary and Financial Conference, and the governor of the Chinese Nationalists’ Central Bank of China.
I.M. Pei’s mother came from a very well educated family from Canton. Both of his parents were born and raised in affluent circumstances. When Pei moved to the United States, his upbringing gave him the ability to easily enter the world of architecture and real estate. He befriended the rich and powerful which gave him the opportunity to design buildings including the Kips Bay Towers, the Kennedy Library in Boston and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
2. His eldest son died in 2003
T’ing Chung Pei passed away in 2003 at age 58 after a long illness. He was following in his Father’s footsteps, attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and living in New York City. He was a Harvard Graduate and was a former President of the Harvard Alumni Association.
Unlike his father, he did not go into architecture but instead became an Urban Planner. He was focused on urban development and towards the end of his life had returned to his father’s birthplace of Suzhou to assist with urban housing policy in China.
He had a love of classical music and was a member of the board and Treasurer for the New York Philomusica. It’s unclear what he died from and that information has not been made public. He is survived by his wife Marianne, a daughter Alyssa, and a son, Stephen who all still live on the East Coast of the United States.
3. I.M. Pei’s two younger sons are both architects
Chien Chung Pei and Li Chung Pei followed in their father’s footsteps and both became architects working in New York City. The two founded Pei Partnership Architects in 1992 and have since completed a number of diverse projects around the world ranging from corporate to cultural to residential. Some of their highlights include The Galleries at Downtown Jebel Ali, Dubai, UAE, City of Dreams ‘Dancing Water Theatre’, Macao, and The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
They worked with I.M. Pei at I.M. Pei & Partners before starting their own firm. They frequently collaborated with their father on a number of projects including The Centurion in New York City. They also built several structures in their Mom and Dad’s hometown of Suzhou, China. Both Chien Chung and Li Chung are successful, respected architects.
4. His wife passed away in 2014
I.M. Pei’s wife, Eileen Loo, passed away in 2014 at the age of 94 years old. Eileen came from a prominent family, her grandfather was Yin Tang Chang, Ambassador from China to Washington, her granduncle was T’ang Shao-Yi, first Prime Minister of the Republic of China, and her father was one of the first Chinese graduates of MIT, earning his engineering degree in 1916.
Eileen got her degree in art from Wellesley College and was a prominent member of the thriving New York art scene in the 1950s and 1960s. She was immersed in the culture and would regularly host dinner parties for some of the more influential artists and thinkers of the time. She was a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood, Channel 13 and WNYC.
I.M. and Eileen were married for 72 years.
5. His Daughter, Liane, Married a Lawyer From Pittsburgh
Liane met her husband, William Kracklauer, at Columbia University where the two received their law degrees. They were both associates of the New York law firm White & Case when they got engaged and then married in September 1990. William is originally from Pittsburgh went to Notre Dame for undergrad. He’s currently Sr. Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary at Hooper Holmes in New York, New York.