A building as a biography: I.M. Pei and his Suzhou Museum
Huang, Chenying, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Wilson, Richard, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Li, Shiqiao, Department of Architecture, University of Virginia
Ieoh Ming Pei, an illustrious architect of the twentieth century, has created many cross-cultural projects. His distinctive identity—as an American architect born in China—gives him a special transnational background. Scholars typically try to locate his design inspirations in his childhood memories, connecting Pei with his dual-cultural background and describing his buildings based on his biography. Suzhou, the town where Pei family was located, is often mentioned by scholars as a way to understand I.M. Pei’s Chinese cultural background. The city is famous for its architecture and landscape, especially its ancient gardens. The Suzhou Museum is a museum of ancient Chinese art, ancient Chinese paintings, calligraphy, and handmade crafts, located next to the ancient Zhuozheng Garden. I.M. Pei designed the current building of the Suzhou Museum in association with Pei Partnership Architects at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Suzhou Museum provides a special opportunity to think critically about Pei’s cross-cultural designs, particularly in relation to his biography. The thesis utilizes primary sources and scholars’ publications in both English and Chinese to analyze I.M. Pei’s life experiences, his design method, and the select details of the Suzhou Museum in order to argue that the Suzhou Museum project is a distinctive self-portrait of its architect.
MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Museum architecture, I.M. Pei, Suzhou Museum
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