Architect I.M. Pei turns 100 years old today. We're celebrating with a look at his rare residential design in Fort Worth, Texas.
One of the most revered architects of the second half of the twentieth century, I.M. Pei designed some of the most celebrated (and controversial) buildings of our time. In 1971, after the construction of his East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., critic Ada Louise Huxtable acknowledged that Pei, "may very likely be America's best architect." Her words still ring true today as some of his most popular works- the glass pyramid at the Louvre, the Bank of China Tower, and the JFK Library- remain instantly recognizable and have (over time) gained near universal admiration. Pei's allegiance to Modernism (he studied under Walter Gropius at Harvard), uniquely tempered by his loyalty to historical context, has allowed his work to stand the test of time. The last of the Modernist giants, Pei formulated his own contemporary architectural language, injecting formal geometric precision with warmth and elegance.
The formal finesse of Pei's public buildings can also be found in this smaller-scale residential project created for Anne Valiant Burnett Tandy in Fort Worth, Texas. Constructed in 1969 for the heiress and philanthropist, the impressive 20,000-square-foot house of concrete and marble stands in one of the area's most elite neighborhoods. Pei's dramatic design helped set the tone for Dallas/Ft. Worth architecture, introducing the architect to the wealthy, well-connected scions of Texas society. Bold, muscular forms and simple geometry evoke a kind of Brutalism, but in Pei's hands, the residence seems much less brutal and much more contemplative. After finishing the Tandy House, Pei would never again design a private residence.
Like much of Pei's work, the Tandy House will always be defined by its sharp geometric forms and quiet deference to time and place. Over his long distinguished career, the architect struggled with notable setbacks (maybe even failures), but he also managed to create a revolutionary style that successfully blended the austerity of formal Bauhaus principles with his own opulent reverence for the past. You can read more about Pei's career here and here.
Image at top of page- Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. Acclaimed international architect I.M. Pei designed this modernist home in the Westover section of Fort Worth, Texas. Fort Worth Texas United States, 2014. -08-31. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, 2015630544.
This architectural historian cannot stop thinking about buildings, food, and that vintage rug she found online.