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I.M. Pei Concept Sketches

September 11, 2012 /

These sketches are an unfurling of sequentially produced thoughts on paper for the Musée d'Art Moderne in Luxembourg, beginning in 1991.

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Over the course of a decade, Tim Culbert, project architect on several Pei-designed museums, kept an active archive of each sketch made by Pei from the first day of design meetings through site visits on the construction site.

I.M. Pei's almost ethical imperative to never show an incomplete project - an unrealized design or a work in progress, as he felt architecture must be judged as a physical experience - has largely kept all of his unbuilt designs, not to mention conceptual
sketches, unpublished.

These sketches, then, offer a rare opportunity to see his mind at work. They are a record less of the source of the completed design - the struggle with the arrow-head shape of the historical fortress on which the museum was built - but of the action of the architect's hand, exploring and resisting the imposed geometry of the site and his own design principles.

It offers a fresh look at the trials and errors, small puzzlings and geometric victories of the architect's musings, which would later become the backbone of the completed building, opened to the public some 16 years later, in 2007.

To rebuke those that see an architect's "napkin sketches" as mere curiosities, look again.

Here we can see an experienced mind flirting with the lines and geometries that have marked much of his built work, done with the same wonderment and pleasure as that of a child: the personal markings of an inquiring mind.

I.M. Pei Sketches

 

Last updated: December 20, 2013

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