Royal Gold Medal for I.M. Pei
by Kevin Matthews and David Owen
The RIBA Royal Gold Medal for 2010 goes to an architect whose renown has been built over several decades of consistently producing a very particular kind of structure — often aspired to, rarely achieved.
The characteristic buildings of I.M. Pei stand serene with the elemental dignity of high modernism, while at the same time expressing both the dynamism of muscular structural sculpture and the deep subtle touches of sensitivity to context.
Given by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in recognition of an entire body of work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by the sitting British monarch and is given to a person or group who has had a significant influence "either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture."
In announcing the 2010 award for Pei, RIBA President Ruth Reed said, "The Royal Gold Medal has been called, often erroneously, a lifetime achievement award. Seldom has it been so true as it is in the case of I.M. Pei.
"At 92 he is that rarity, an officially retired architect," Reed continued, "though there is still work in the pipeline to be delivered, work that will crown the extraordinary achievements of six decades in which he has reinvented the housing, gallery, and commercial building types. He is truly an inspiration for all architects."
The RIBA citation noted several exemplars of Pei's body of work, including the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado (1967); the East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. (1978); the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston (1979); the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong (1989); the Pyramide du Louvre and Grand Louvre expansion and renovation in Paris (1993); and the Miho Museum in Shiga, Japan (1997).
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