Architect Pei to receive British Royal Gold Medal

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(AFP) -

Chinese-born American architect I.M. Pei is to receive the Royal Gold Medal in recognition of his lifetime's work, the Royal Institute of British Architects announced Tuesday.

The 92-year-old, who designed the glass and metal Louvre Pyramid in Paris, will be given the annual special award at the RIBA in London on February 11.

The medal is personally approved by Queen Elizabeth II and recognises a lifetime's work which has had a significant influence "either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture".

"It is a great honour to receive the Royal Gold Medal from the RIBA. I am humbled indeed to read the names of those who have preceded me as recipients," Pei said from New York, adding that he was looking forward to the ceremony.

His best known buildings include the East Wing of the National Gallery, Washington (1968-78); the John F. Kennedy Library, in Boston, Massachusetts (1965-79); the Bank of China, Hong Kong (1982-89); the Grand Louvre project in Paris (1983-93), and the Miho Museum in Shiga, Japan (1991-97).

In recent years he has completed major museum projects in Luxembourg, China and Qatar.

RIBA President Ruth Reed called Pei "one of the greats of 20th -- and 21st -- century architecture," adding: "A list of his influences and those he has influenced reads like a roll-call of the Modern Movement.

"Seldom has such a reward been so overdue or so just," she said.

Ieoh Ming Pei was born in Guangzhou in 1917 but left China to study in the United States in 1935.

Pei was nominated for the medal by David Adjaye.

"His work seemed effortlessly capable of creating extraordinary clarity out of complex and conflicting demands," he said.

"His is an agile ability, working with heads of state, kings and queens, 'hard-nosed' developers and non profit institutions, in each case creating revealing, extraordinary works of precision with quality and detail."

Adjaye recalled seeing the Louvre and "marvelling at its extraordinary ability to unify and modernise what was a much-loved but disparate institution and behold its magnificent, gravity-defying, glass pyramid."

The medal, inaugurated by queen Victoria in 1848, is conferred annually by the sovereign on a "distinguished architect for work or high merit, or on some distinguished person whose work has promoted either directly or indirectly the advancement of architecture."

Previous winners include Giles Gilbert Scott, Edwin Lutyens, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Nikolaus Pevsner, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers.