Crowds around the world flow through the buildings designed by architect I.M. Pei; in Paris, they stream into the Louvre’s Pyramid entrance. In Cleveland, they wander through the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And in Hong Kong, they travel up and down the soaring Bank of China Tower.
Pei’s death was confirmed by Thomas Guss, his press contact. He was 102.
His designs were widely praised — but not always at first. When his large, glass pyramid opened at the entrance to the Louvre in 1988, it was not well-received.
“I would say the first year and a half was really hell,” the architect said in a PBS documentary. “I couldn’t walk the streets of Paris without people walking looking at me and saying: There you go again. What are you doing here? What are you doing to us? What are you doing to our great Louvre?”
Two decades passed and, in 2009, NPR’s Susan Stamberg paid a visit to the pyramid. Henri Loyrette, the Louvre’s director at the time, called it a masterpiece. He said that when you ask visitors why they are at the Louvre, they generally give three answers: for the Mona Lisa, for the Venus de Milo and for the Pyramid. It was not the first time shock has given way to admiration in architecture.