12–13 October 2017 (Thursday and Friday)

6:30pm–8:00pm (Thursday)
9:30am–5:00pm (Friday)

Piper Auditorium, Gund Hall, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

This two-day session kicked off with a great turnout, featuring panel discussions and scholarly presentations that showcased new research on Pei’s manifold contributions to the built environment. Notable alumni from Pei’s office discussed the emergence of a new kind of architectural practice in the post-war era. Watch it online:

Daniel M. Abramson, André Bideau, Edward Eigen, Annette Fierro, Delin Lai, Stuart Leslie, Thomas Leslie, William Pedersen, Leslie Robertson, Cole Roskam, Brett Schneider, Shohei Shigematsu, Janet Adams Strong, Shirley Surya, Yvonne Szeto, Kellogg Wong

K. Michael Hays, Eric Höweler, Grace La, Seng Kuan

M+ and Harvard Graduate School of Design

About Harvard Graduate School of Design
The Harvard University Graduate School of Design is dedicated to the education and development of design professionals in architecture, landscape, urban planning, and urban design. With a commitment to excellence that demands the skillful manipulation of form and technology and draws inspiration from a broad range of social, environmental, and cultural issues, the GSD is uniquely positioned to provide leadership for shaping the built environment of the 21st century. 

About the Participants
Daniel M. Abramson is Professor of Architectural History and Director of Architectural Studies at Boston University. Previously he taught at Tufts University. Abramson is the author of several books, most recently, Obsolescence: An Architectural History (University of Chicago Press, 2016). Current work includes projects on America as a welfare state as well as collating evidence and literature of architectural history.

André Bideau’s research targets intersections of architecture production, urbanisation, and urban governance. His work has focused on the socio-economic dynamics of postmodernism and Post-Fordism, having lectured and published extensively on German architect O.M. Ungers. His current research involves the early development of the La Défense office district in Paris. Bideau has taught at ENSA Paris-Malaquais and Harvard Graduate School of Design; currently he teaches at Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

Annette Fierro is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Architecture at University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches design, technology, and urbanism. She is also a registered architect and engineer by training. In 2003, she published The Glass State: The Technology of the Spectacle, Paris 1981-98 (MIT). Forthcoming is her book on avant-garde Britain in the 1960’s and its impact on British High-Tech architecture.

Edward Eigen is a historian and scholar whose work focuses on intersections of the human and natural sciences with the built environment in the long nineteenth century. A selection of his essays, On Accident: Episodes in Architecture and Landscape is forthcoming from the MIT Press. His current research examines the landscapes of the modern American presidency, including studies of the “grassy knoll” and Watergate.

K. Michael Hayis Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, as well as Interim Chair for the Department of Architecture. Hays joined the Faculty of Design in 1988, teaching courses in architectural history and theory. Hays has played a central role in the development of the field of architectural theory and his work is internationally known. His research and scholarship have focused on the areas of European modernism and critical theory as well as on theoretical issues in contemporary architectural practice.

Eric Höweler is Associate Professor of Architecture at the Harvard GSD. He teaches in the core studio sequence and offers courses in other areas, including building assemblies. He is a principal of Höweler + Yoon Architecture LLP (HYA). HYA is a multidisciplinary practice working between architecture, art and media. Their projects include architecture, interactive environments, interiors, installations, furniture, concept clothing and artist books. Prior to forming HYA, Höweler was a Senior Designer at Diller + Scofidio where he worked on the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Juilliard School projects, and an Associate Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, where he was the senior designer on the 118 story ICC Tower in Hong Kong. He is LEED AP, and a registered architect in state of New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

Grace La (MArch '95) is Professor of Architecture, Chair of the Practice Platform, and Coordinator of the second-semester architecture core program at the Harvard GSD. She is also Principal of LA DALLMAN Architects, internationally recognized for the integration of architecture, engineering and landscape. Cofounded with James Dallman, LA DALLMAN is engaged in catalytic projects of diverse scale and type. Noted for works that expand the architect's agency in the civic recalibration of infrastructure, public space and challenging sites, LA DALLMAN was named as an Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of New York in 2010 and received the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence Silver Medal in 2007. In 2011, LA DALLMAN was the first practice in the United States to receive the Rice Design Alliance Prize, an international award recognizing exceptionally gifted architects in the early phase of their career. LA DALLMAN has also been awarded numerous professional honors, including architecture and engineering awards, as well as prizes in international design competitions.

With PhD Degrees from Tsinghua University and University of Chicago in 1992 and 2007 respectively, Delin Lai is now Professor of Art History at University of Louisville. He specialises in modern Chinese cities, architecture, and their relationship with nationalism, modernism, and Western influence. He is Lead Editor of the five-volume book Zhongguo Jindai Jianzhushi (History of Modern Chinese Architecture) published in June 2016.

Stuart Leslie teaches the history of science and technology at The Johns Hopkins University.  His architectural writings include studies of Eero Saarinen’s corporate laboratories, the healthcare designs of Bertrand Goldberg and Eberhard Zeidler, laboratories by I.M. Pei and Louis Kahn, Edward Durell Stone’s Nuclear Taj Mahal for Pakistan, and the aerospace modernism of William Periera and A.C. Martin Jr. in Southern California. He recently served as Charles Lindbergh Chair at the National Air and Space Museum. 

Thomas Leslie, AIA, has taught at Iowa State University since 2000. He has degrees from University of Illinois and Columbia University. Leslie is the author of Louis I. Kahn: Building Art, Building ScienceChicago Skyscrapers, 18711934, and Beauty’s Rigor: Patterns of Production in the Work of Pier Luigi Nervi. In 2013–2014, Leslie was Historic Preservation Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. Prior to teaching he was an Associate with Foster and Partners, London.

Cole Roskam is Associate Professor of Architectural History in the Department of Architecture at University of Hong Kong. His research examines architecture's role in mediating moments of transnational exchange between China and other parts of the world. His scholarship has been published in AD, Artforum International, Grey Room, the Journal of Architectural Education, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, among others.

Janet Adams Strong is an architectural historian (PhD, Brown University). She was engaged to write for I.M. Pei & Partners in 1986, and continued at the firm (now Pei Cobb Freed & Partners) for twenty plus years as documentalist and Director of Communications. Dr Strong has independently authored, co-authored, and edited more than a dozen books on architecture, including I.M. Pei: Complete Works (2008).

Shirley Surya is Associate Curator, Design and Architecture, at M+, where she focuses on researching design and architecture production in greater China and Southeast Asia. She was co-curator of Building M+: The Museum & Architecture Collection and Mobile M+: NEONSIGNS.HK, and contributed to exhibitions including Incomplete Urbanism: Attempts of Critical Spatial Practice and Yung Ho Chang & FCJZ: Material-ism. She studied at University of California, Berkeley, and Royal College of Art in London.

William Pedersen joined Gene Kohn and Sheldon Fox in 1976 to found Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects. Previous to that he graduated from the University of Minnesota and MIT. In 1975 he was awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture by a jury headed by I. M. Pei. Returning from Rome in 1967, he worked at I. M. Pei and Partners for four years, three of which were on the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Since forming Kohn Pedersen Fox, seven of Pedersen's buildings have been awarded National Design Awards from the AIA. In 2013 the AIA of New York awarded him their Medal of Honor.

Li Chung (Sandi) Pei is the founding partner of Pei Partnership Architects, a firm he established with his brother, Chien Chung (Didi) Pei, after working at I. M. Pei & Partners from 1976 until 1992. Since then, he has directed the design of over five million square meters of building and large-scale urban development projects in the United States, Mexico, China, Indonesia, and Singapore. Some of his firm’s notable projects include the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC, Suzhou Museum, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and The Centurion luxury condominium building in New York City. The firm has designed projects for BMW, Bank of China, China Institute, Creative Artists Agency, Macao Foundation, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, and MIT, among others. He serves on Christie’s Advisory Board and is Vice President of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art. Sandi Pei graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1976.

Leslie Robertson is an internationally acclaimed structural engineer, who has transformed urban and rural landscapes through innovative designs for over sixty years. Among his many notable designs are the twin towers of the World Trade Center (New York), US Steel Headquarters (Pittsburgh), Bank of China Tower (Hong Kong), Shanghai World Financial Center (China), Suzhou Museum (China), the Meyerson Symphony Center (Dallas), the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar, and the Miho Museum, Bridge, and Chapel (Japan). A member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Distinguished Member of ASCE, Dr. Robertson has received numerous awards and honors, including the IStructE Gold Medal of the U. K., ASCE’s Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Award, was Engineering News-Record’s ‘Man of the Year’, and the first recipient of the Henry C. Turner Prize. A Distinguished Alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley and recipient of doctoral degrees from Lehigh University, University of Notre Dame, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) , and the University of Western Ontario.

Brett Schneider was educated as both an Architect and an Engineer as a graduate student at Princeton University completing a Master’s in Engineering in 2000.  He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design (Department of Architecture) and the Senior Associate at Guy Nordenson and Associates (structural engineers) in New York where he has worked since 1998.

Shohei Shigematsu is a Partner at OMA and the Director of the New York Office. Sho has completed a number of cultural projects including Milstein Hall for Cornell University, extension for the Quebec National Art Museum, Faena Forum in Miami Beach and the Costume Institute exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is currently designing an extension to the Albright Knox Art Gallery and a new campus for Facebook.

Yvonne Szeto (MArch '79) joined Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in 1977 and became a partner in 1999. Over four decades of service, she has played a central role in advancing the firm’s tradition of well-crafted public works, gaining national recognition as a designer of academic and cultural institutions while extending the firm’s global reach with major corporate projects in Europe, Asia and Australia. Her extensive and diverse portfolio of built work illustrates her commitment to creating buildings that engender meaning and identity, and serve their users.

Kellogg Wong, FAIA, RIBA, is Senior Principal at FORM New York, currently assisting Hurricane Sandy affected communities. Previously, Wong was Associate Partner Emeritus at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners for more than forty years, having taught at Rice University School of Architecture. He worked with I. M. Pei on the Everson Museum in Syracuse, Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing, and OCBC Raffles City Gate Way in Singapore. He also co-authored Vertical City: A solution for Sustainable Living.


Day 1 (12 October 2017, Thursday)

6:30 pm

Introduction and Opening

6:45 pm


Emergence of a Modern Practice

Moderator: Grace La

William Pedersen

Li-Chung (Sandi) Pei

Shohei Shigematsu

Yvonne Szeto


Day 2 (13 October 2017, Friday)

9:30 pm

Panel 1


Moderator: Eric Höweler


Janet Adams Strong

Continuity and Change: Fine-faced Concrete in Physical Manifestation of I. M. Pei’s Approach to Architecture

Annette Fierro

Effective Depths: Transparent Domains

Brett Schneider

Early Tall Structures in Context

Leslie Robertson

Bank of China, Miho Museum and Bridge, and Other Projects 

12:30 pm

Panel 2

Spatial and Formal Practices I

Moderator: K. Michael Hays


Daniel M. Abramson

Vexing Government Center

Stuart Leslie

I. M. Pei's Modern Monastery: the NCAR Mesa Laboratory

Thomas Leslie

Brutal Grace: I. M. Pei’s Early Art Centers

Delin Lai

Defining the Present Perfect Tense of I. M. Pei’s Space 

3:00 pm

Panel 3

Power, Capital, and People

Moderator: Seng Kuan


Edward Eigen

I. M. Pei and the ‘Big Plan’: The Several Lives of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

André Bideau

Between the Superblock and the Pyramid: I. M. Pei and Araldo Cossutta at La Défense

Cole Roskam

The Fragrant Hill Hotel: Reassessing the Politics of Tradition and Abstraction in China’s Early Reform Era

Shirley Surya

Pei’s Office and Singapore’s Urban Core: Corporate Architecture, Symbolic Aestheticisation and Economic Pragmatism

Kellogg Wong

I. M. Pei & Partners, the Pei Team, and Singapore