I.M. Pei: Building China ModernVIEW EVENT DETAILS
Asia Society Architecture and Design Series
Evening Documentary Screening
Running time: 49 Minutes; Language: English and Mandarin with English subtitles; Director: Anne Makepeace
I.M. Pei, who celebrated his centennial birthday in April 2017, has been called the most important living modern architect, one who has defined the landscapes of some of the world’s greatest cities. A monumental figure in his field and a laureate of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, Pei is the senior statesman of modernism. Entering into the twilight of his career and well into his eighties, Pei returns to his ancestral home of Suzhou, China to work on his most personal project. He is commissioned to build a modern museum in the city’s oldest neighborhood which is populated by classical structures from the Ming and Qing dynasties. For the architect who placed the pyramid at the Louvre, the test to integrate the new with the old is familiar but still difficult.
With an agenda of change, Pei inevitably enters into a crucible of conflict in Suzhou. Adding to the already complex assignment, he faces the controversy of displacing residents living at the museum site. To meet the design challenges, Pei draws on ideas that stretch far back into his own life and work — including a 1946 thesis project at Harvard, where he was taught abstract modern architecture. Throughout his education and career, Pei maintains his “impossible dream” to bring together modernity and traditional, regional influences (including nature) in his work. The film traces Pei’s pursuit of that dream and explores the defining conflicts of our age — the lure of the modern versus the pull of history. The result is a surprisingly revealing and intimate portrait of the man who set as his goal nothing less than the redefinition of architecture in modern China.
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Want to learn more about I.M. Pei and his architecture projects? Find out more in Changing the World, One Building at a Time — The Life and Work of Architect I.M. Pei.
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