National Gallery of Art, East Building, 1978
I. M. Pei
Designed by architect I. M. Pei, the East Building harmonizes with John Russell Pope’s neoclassical West Building. Opened in 1978, the structure is a timeless classic with a soaring, light-filled atrium anchored by Alexander Calder’s mobile. Pei’s masterpiece is an eloquent setting for modern art in the permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions and a research center.
Realizing the vision of National Gallery founder Andrew W. Mellon and his children, Paul Mellon and Ailsa Mellon Bruce, the East Building is one of the great public structures in the nation’s capital. It won the American Institute of Architect’s Twenty-five Year Award in 2004.
I. M. Pei
Born in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, in 1917, Ieoh Ming Pei moved to the United States at age 18 to study architecture. He earned degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Pei opened his own firm in New York City in 1955.
The trustees of the National Gallery selected I. M. Pei & Partners to design the East Building in 1968. Pei overcame a number of challenges in designing the building, including the irregularly shaped site that Congress had reserved for the museum. He received the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 1979 and the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1983.