I.M. Pei, architect of Place Ville Marie, dead at 102

Pei and Ray Affleck designed Place Ville Marie in Montreal in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Pei's portfolio included a renovation of the Louvre, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

I.M. Pei laughs while posing for a portrait in front of the Louvre glass pyramid, which he designed, in Paris. He designed Place Ville Marie, at one point the tallest building in the Commonwealth. (Pierre Gleizes/The Associated Press)

I.M. Pei, whose modern designs and high-profile projects made him one of the best-known and most prolific architects of the 20th century, has died, the New York Times reported on Thursday. He was 102.

Pei and Ray Affleck designed Place Ville Marie in Montreal. It was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The 47-storey, cruciform-shaped building in the Internationalist style was one of Montreal's flagship projects of the 1960s. The Royal Bank of Canada and Aluminum Company of Canada (ALCAN) were among its first renters.

Today, 10,000 people work in the building and 20 million people visit it annually.

Place Ville Marie is a 45-storey tower in downtown Montreal where 10,000 people work. (Christian De Grandmaison/Radio-Canada)

Pei's portfolio included a controversial renovation of Louvre Museum in Paris and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ieoh Ming Pei, the son of a prominent banker in China, left his homeland in 1935, moving to the United States and studying architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. After teaching and working for the U.S. government, he went to work for a New York developer in 1948 and started his own firm in 1955.

Place Ville Marie being built. It would become the tallest building in the Commonwealth in 1962. (Place Ville Marie archive)

The museums, municipal buildings, hotels, schools and other structures that Pei built around the world showed precision geometry and an abstract quality with a reverence for light. They were composed of stone, steel and glass and, as with the Louvre, he often worked glass pyramids into his projects.

With files from Radio-Canada


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?