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I.M. Pei’s iconic Silver Towers in Greenwich Village.
Chris Mottalini

I.M. Pei’s notable New York City buildings, mapped

The Pritzker Prize-winning architect has left an indelible mark throughout NYC

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I.M. Pei’s iconic Silver Towers in Greenwich Village.
| Chris Mottalini

Late-breaking news this Thursday evening: I.M. Pei, the Pritzker Prize-winning Chinese-American architect, has died at the age of 102. Marc Diamond, director of communications at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, has confirmed his passing.

Pei, when he won architecture’s most prestigious award in 1983, was praised by the Pritzker Prize committee for work that “can be characterized by its faith in modernism, humanized by its subtlety, lyricism, and beauty.” That is certainly true of his works in New York City, which vary greatly—from an innovative Brooklyn street to a Brutalist superblock in Greenwich Village to a gone-forever airline terminal—while all highlighting Pei’s quest to create elegant, light-filled spaces.

To commemorate his prestigious career, take a look at the work he’s done across New York City. While his firm, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, has completed dozens of projects, Pei himself was the principal designer on just a handful, which we’ve gathered here.

This piece was originally published in 2014, and has been updated.

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Silver Towers

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Back when NYU superblocks didn’t throw the neighborhood into unbridled rage (or did they?), Pei designed the Silver Towers of University Village. In 2008, the three-tower complex was designated a landmark, which effectively stopped NYU’s plans for building another tower on the block as part of its 2031 expansion plan. “When lists of Pei’s greatest structures surface, they tend to include the glass and steel pyramids of the Louvre in Paris, the geometric design of the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong,” Rebecca Bengal wrote last year for Curbed. “The Silver Towers in Greenwich Village rarely, if ever, make these lists.” Perhaps it’s time for a re-evaluation.

Kips Bay Plaza

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Kips Bay Plaza was the first major New York City project of Pei’s career. The development consists of twin 20-story apartment buildings with a large plaza between them. They have a total of 1,118 units, and the design was inspired by Courbusier’s Unite de Habitation in Marsielle, France. Pei Cobb Freed calls it a “prototypical experiment in architectural low-cost housing”; per The AIA Guide to New York City, the “giant and beautifully detailed concrete buildings” are “rooted, confident, and permanent” compared to today’s new developments.

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Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations

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Pei designed this 11-story building with several references to traditional Korean design. A key feature is the central atrium that brings light to the interior and extends over a central staircase. The facade design was not very well-received. One architecture book reads, “Despite the meticulous detailing and the syncopated window pattern, the overall effect was flat and lifeless.”

The Centurion

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This luxury Midtown residence is the first—and only—condo that Pei designed in New York City. The 17-story building tapers upward through a series of setbacks and curves that were required by zoning, but made unique by Pei. When the building was in planning back in 2007, Pei said, “The face will have more distinction with a cascade of stone, rather than steps. You don’t have to be big to be beautiful.” A handful of its 48 homes are still on the market, including a $13 million penthouse.

Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

Four Seasons Hotel New York

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The project description of Pei’s 54-story Four Seasons Hotel says the building “was designed to possess a classic elegance that transcends both time and fashion.” The hotel opened in 1993, but Pei was unsatisfied with the penthouse, as it wasn’t as magnificent as he wanted it to be because of budget constraints. But in 1999, new owner Ty Warner commissioned Pei to redo the penthouse (pictured). It took seven years and $50 million, but Pei did just that, creating a nine-room, 4,300-square-foot suite that goes for $30,000/night.

Four Seasons Hotels

Mount Sinai Hospital’s Guggenheim Pavilion

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When completed in 1992, Pei’s Guggenheim Pavilion at Mt. Sinai Medical Center was extremely well-received. In the New York Times, Herbert Muschamp called the atriums “lofty,” “radiant,” and “luminous,” writing: “It resembles, rather, a health spa, a tranquil oasis where trees grow and space soars amid urban bustle and big-city hospital commotion.” The AIA Guide, meanwhile, says it “brought elegance to the hospital patient.”

Bedford-Stuyvesant superblock

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By far one of Pei’s lesser known projects, this superblock was created in 1969 in response to urban blight. The goal was to create a neighborhood focal point and public amenities. St. Mark’s Avene between Albany and Kingston Avenues was reimagined with a central park and two half-block parking areas. The other side of the block, Prospect Place, saw the sidewalks widened and more trees planted. It should be noted that while this project is called the “Bed-Stuy Superblock,” this block is most definitely located in Crown Heights.

Courtesy of NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s Office

The Sundrome

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Sadly, Pei’s JFK Aiport Sundrome is no more. In 2011, despite much protesting, the iconic air terminal was demolished to make way for the expansion of Termianl 5. Pei won a competition to created the terminal, which was the first to use glass as a primary building material. It was, according to the AIA Guide, a “serene temple to transport,” and was often used by travelers taking cheap flights to Florida.

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Silver Towers

Back when NYU superblocks didn’t throw the neighborhood into unbridled rage (or did they?), Pei designed the Silver Towers of University Village. In 2008, the three-tower complex was designated a landmark, which effectively stopped NYU’s plans for building another tower on the block as part of its 2031 expansion plan. “When lists of Pei’s greatest structures surface, they tend to include the glass and steel pyramids of the Louvre in Paris, the geometric design of the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong,” Rebecca Bengal wrote last year for Curbed. “The Silver Towers in Greenwich Village rarely, if ever, make these lists.” Perhaps it’s time for a re-evaluation.

Kips Bay Plaza

Shutterstock

Kips Bay Plaza was the first major New York City project of Pei’s career. The development consists of twin 20-story apartment buildings with a large plaza between them. They have a total of 1,118 units, and the design was inspired by Courbusier’s Unite de Habitation in Marsielle, France. Pei Cobb Freed calls it a “prototypical experiment in architectural low-cost housing”; per The AIA Guide to New York City, the “giant and beautifully detailed concrete buildings” are “rooted, confident, and permanent” compared to today’s new developments.

Shutterstock

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations

Pei designed this 11-story building with several references to traditional Korean design. A key feature is the central atrium that brings light to the interior and extends over a central staircase. The facade design was not very well-received. One architecture book reads, “Despite the meticulous detailing and the syncopated window pattern, the overall effect was flat and lifeless.”

The Centurion

Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

This luxury Midtown residence is the first—and only—condo that Pei designed in New York City. The 17-story building tapers upward through a series of setbacks and curves that were required by zoning, but made unique by Pei. When the building was in planning back in 2007, Pei said, “The face will have more distinction with a cascade of stone, rather than steps. You don’t have to be big to be beautiful.” A handful of its 48 homes are still on the market, including a $13 million penthouse.

Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

Four Seasons Hotel New York

Four Seasons Hotels

The project description of Pei’s 54-story Four Seasons Hotel says the building “was designed to possess a classic elegance that transcends both time and fashion.” The hotel opened in 1993, but Pei was unsatisfied with the penthouse, as it wasn’t as magnificent as he wanted it to be because of budget constraints. But in 1999, new owner Ty Warner commissioned Pei to redo the penthouse (pictured). It took seven years and $50 million, but Pei did just that, creating a nine-room, 4,300-square-foot suite that goes for $30,000/night.

Four Seasons Hotels

Mount Sinai Hospital’s Guggenheim Pavilion

When completed in 1992, Pei’s Guggenheim Pavilion at Mt. Sinai Medical Center was extremely well-received. In the New York Times, Herbert Muschamp called the atriums “lofty,” “radiant,” and “luminous,” writing: “It resembles, rather, a health spa, a tranquil oasis where trees grow and space soars amid urban bustle and big-city hospital commotion.” The AIA Guide, meanwhile, says it “brought elegance to the hospital patient.”

Bedford-Stuyvesant superblock

Courtesy of NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s Office

By far one of Pei’s lesser known projects, this superblock was created in 1969 in response to urban blight. The goal was to create a neighborhood focal point and public amenities. St. Mark’s Avene between Albany and Kingston Avenues was reimagined with a central park and two half-block parking areas. The other side of the block, Prospect Place, saw the sidewalks widened and more trees planted. It should be noted that while this project is called the “Bed-Stuy Superblock,” this block is most definitely located in Crown Heights.

Courtesy of NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s Office

The Sundrome

Sadly, Pei’s JFK Aiport Sundrome is no more. In 2011, despite much protesting, the iconic air terminal was demolished to make way for the expansion of Termianl 5. Pei won a competition to created the terminal, which was the first to use glass as a primary building material. It was, according to the AIA Guide, a “serene temple to transport,” and was often used by travelers taking cheap flights to Florida.