World-renowned architect Ieoh Ming (IM) Pei, the creator of masterpiece building designs around the world, died on May 16 in New York at the age of 102. His imprint lives on in two buildings at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus that continue to draw crowds to East-West Road: Kennedy Theatre, which houses the Department of Theater and Dance, and Jefferson Hall, home to the Hawaiʻi Imin International Conference Center.
Pei will be remembered for his design of buildings including the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
“IM Pei was not only a great architect but an engaging and approachable human being,” said William Chapman, interim dean of the School of Architecture. “I attended the American Academy of Arts and Letters ceremony in 1979, when Pei won the Gold Medal for Architecture. We talked for a good 15 minutes, standing over a model of one of his buildings. I was a mere graduate student, he was a significant architect, but he had time to talk and ask me about my own career plans. A lovely man. We are lucky to have not one but an entire complex of buildings at the East-West Center and Kennedy Theatre. This is a rare treasure that does much to enhance our campus.”
His admirers also include many UH faculty and administrators.
“IM Pei developed and shaped the character and identity of UH Mānoa with his iconic buildings like the East-West Center’s Jefferson Hall and Burns Hall, Kennedy Theatre and other East-West Center residential buildings along East-West Road,” said Thomas Lim, director of the UH Office of Planning and Management Systems in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. “He was a hero of mine as a New Yorker and inspired me to make a mid-life career change from medical biochemistry to architecture.”
Added UH Mānoa Provost Michael Bruno, “He was a hero of mine as well—a life well-lived, so many accomplishments.”