At the age of 102, Sino-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei leaves behind architectural masterpieces. Most major American cities have Pei buildings, and they have left their mark around the world.

Between 1961 and 2009, he signed more than 40 major projects, from the commercial complex to the museum and office towers.

Leoh Ming Pei was born in 1917 in Suzhou, the Venice of China, into a wealthy family. His father is a banker, his mother is a musician. She dies young. Pei is sent to the United States for his studies. He graduated from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in architecture in 1940 and a design degree from Harvard University (1948) where he was a pupil of Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus and one of the theoreticians of the international style. In 1955, he opened his first agency in New York, which in 1989 became Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

In France he is best known for the Louvre Pyramid, emblematic because it bears his mark, both in the choice of shapes and the materials used than in the way he had to finally accept it after the reluctance of Parisians. He stated in the 1980 edition of American Archictecture Now that "The important thing is to know how the building affects life".

Before imposing a building, it is a question of knowing what it fits. His architectural work is the fruit of a dialogue between landscape but also sociology and history, between meeting with the inhabitants and elected officials. Thus the pyramidal form and the glass, fruit of a reflection on the light, respond as much to the roofs of the Louvre Palace as to the Egyptian Obelisk of the Place de la Concorde. He designed with his team a very large hall acting agora, bathed in light. The new museum opened in March 1989, becoming an architectural model.

Pei's style, based mainly on abstract forms, is a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity. Pei has always wanted his projects to balance a futuristic vision with places marked by history. Stone, concrete, glass and steel are the main materials of his constructions, which in form, go to the essential, without depriving themselves of technological innovation. Pei notably cultivated the use of reflective glass: on the Bank of China towers in Hong Kong, on the Louvre pyramid or on the east building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington

He was then selected to design in Hong Kong the tower of the Bank of China, an asymmetrical glass structure.

In 1997, he signed, in particular, the Miho Museum in Shiga, Japan, a building, essentially underground, integrated into the environment. Another major work was the German Historical Museum in Berlin in 2003, followed by the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, in 2008 on an artificial island he built.

In his projects in Asia and China in particular, he was keen to go back to basics and draw inspiration from the gardens of his childhood. In Japan, for example, for the Miho Museum near Kyoto, a museum devoted to the tea ceremony, it is inspired by the interior design of ancient temples.

Pei leaves a huge work.

He was recognized during his lifetime and was awarded the most prestigious awards, such as, in 1979, the gold medal for architecture of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the big medal for He graduated from the Academy of Architecture (Paris) in 1981. In 1983, he received the Pritzker Prize, considered the Nobel Prize in Architecture and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (United States) in 1992.

Jaimie Potts for DayNewsWorld