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I.M. Pei: Architect of Time, Place and Purpose Hardcover – October 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Ages 12+ This handsome book introduces the life and work of architect I. M. Pei. Born in China, he came to the U.S. in 1935 to study architecture. Though he never returned to his homeland to live, his later work expressed cultural and artistic values absorbed during his childhood in addition to his education as an architect and the strong influence of Corbusier. After discussing Pei s early work in urban redevelopment, Rubalcaba focuses on seven later projects around the world: the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, the Fragrant Hill Hotel, the Bank of China, the redesigned Louvre, and the Miho Museum. Each chapter looks at Pei s approach to one project, the challenges he encountered, and how he achieved his vision for the building. Illustrations
include sketches, site models, and photos. Back matter includes a timeline, a bibliography, source notes for quotes, and lists of suggested books and websites. Like Pei s buildings, the book s design has a clean aesthetic that is spacious, functional, and inviting. Color is used sparingly, but effectively. The wide, white pages carry well-spaced lines of type, with red chapter headings, page numbers, and linear borders for
illustrations. A fascinating introduction to this significant architect.

Carolyn Phelan, Booklist, November 1st Issue --STARRED - Carolyn Phelan, Booklist, November 1st Issue

Exceptionally attractive bookmaking enhances the story of Pei s career: stylish font with wide leading on generous white space; delicately framed color photographs, plans, elevations, and sketches harmonize with the text layout; bibliography, timeline, notes, resources, major Pei deigns, and index enjoy care in design seldom lavished on end matter. This is an essential addition to the 720s and a first choice for adolescents imagining a future in architecture or engineering. --STARRED - The Bulletin of the Center for Children s Books, December 2011

About the Author

Jill Rubalcaba lives in Middletown, Connecticut. Her recent book, Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates, co-authored with Peter Robertshaw, was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761459731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761459736
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 11.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tom McGee VINE VOICE on January 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I know next to nothing about Architecture or I.M. Pei, after reading a cyber friend's review of Jill Rubalcaba's "I. M. Pei: Architect of Time, Place and Purpose," I nearly tore my wallet apart pulling out my credit card at warp speed, placing the order on

As fellow reviewer, Don Blankenship would say, "Folks, this is great stuff!" It has great pictures and is written for those twelve and older; however, so is my local newspaper and it is not half as interesting.

I love a good biography and this one really fit the bill for me. I spent two hours and 92 pages of pure joy reading and viewing the pictures that document the life and accomplishments of Leoh Ming Pei. Rubalcaba displays a half dozen of Pei's most notable buildings constructed in America, Beijing, Hong Kong, Paris, and Japan where he studied the people and sites before building architecture suitable for those locations, but within the politics, budget and indigenous constraints.

Jill follows the times line that begins with Pei's April 26, 1917 birth in China, move to the United States in 1935; graduation from MIT in 1940; marriage to Eileen Loo in 1942;, the birth of his first son, T'ing Chung in 1945; graduation with a Masters in Architecture from Harvard in 1946, the same year his second son, Chien Chung "Didi" was born; the birth of his third son, Li Chung "Sandi" in 1950, becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1955; the birth of Liane, Pei's only daughter in 1960; Pei's retirement in 1990 and beyond.

A premier name in architecture, Pei explained that a full understanding of three essential elements--time, palace and purpose--is his approach to achieve an ideally balanced structure.

I whole heartedly recommend this clear and concise biographic snap shot of a quiet, unassuming family man who has left his ingenious mark on this planet through creative architecture.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aceto VINE VOICE on January 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Young people have a natural curiosity that we best feed if we do not want it to wither. Wither Jill Rubalcaba has produced a liberating book for us and our young. Compact enough in height, it is a splendid lap book of broad wings like a Red-crowned Crane to transport us. Her archive photographs and other illustrations are open, expansive, Red-crowned because of her lovely calligraphic headings and for the Chinese bird both.

The first things she freed me from are his initials, I. M. From now on it is strictly Ieoh Ming. Gangsta architect! Yo Ming yo. I knew nothing of his life before America. Ms. Rubalcaba tells it as an old fashioned tale, and with a light touch fitting the man. She has an easy way with introducing architecture invitingly. While mentioning the Beaux-arts school and the general reaction of MIT and Harvard against it, she quietly juxtaposes a photograph of the set piece, Palais Beaux-Arts located in Lille. She saves a proverbial thousand words there (actually that cliché is a planted proverb by one of the Mad Men) letting the school speak for itself. So she fairly presents all topics. Just so she contrasts the appreciation of history that Ieoh Ming has, with its rejection by Le Corbu and his tribe. She makes the point politely that Pei was a giant because he left behind the sterile academy to live as a true builder. Her rendering of Zeckendorf is not to be missed, nor the rest of that legendary partnership.

Read this book before you let it go into the kid's hands (remove or cover its lovely dust jacket; there is a resilient hard finish cover beneath); besides that you are unlikely ever to get it back. If you care to read it, you are in position to have real conversations about it. And not just architecture, as if "just" were even justified.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Denis Hill VINE VOICE on December 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an accessible introduction to the motivations and creations of an architect who helped define innovation in the second half of the 20th century.
Pei, a student of Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier, has designed a string of monumental (and sometimes controversial) buildings reflecting his thoughtful approach to purpose and place ... avoiding aping his influences by respecting each project. Readers, especially the youth market to which this book is tailored, will be exposed to both the background (a child of privilege growing up in the tumultuous China of the early 20th century) that helped shape Pei's approach to his work and examples of notable buildings and his creative approach.
Naturally, I was particularly interested to read about the buildings I've see or visited: Mile High Center, National Center for Atmospheric Research, National Gallery of Art East Building, and the Louvre. Some I've visited that are listed but not described include Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Museum of Fine Arts West Wing (Boston), and Court House Square (Denver). My advice: if you've not experienced Pei buildings, take advantage of any opportunity to rectify that omission.
The book helps us understand that the architect's work is bound less by style than by continuity of intention. For any student wondering how to plan an education and career, it provides a thoughtful model and inspiration. For the rest of us, the author helps us more fully experience the creations of a master. Think of this volume as a cross between a coffee table book, a biography, and a textbook.
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