Everson Museum Architect I.M. Pei Remembered as Visionary, Bold
Posted on: 2019-05-21 10:41:45
Article originally appeared on WAER.org by Scott Willis. Listen to the full interview HERE.
Dunbar says Pei was selected in 1960, and at the time, was considered a wildcard choice for a museum commission. But she says part of the reason was pragmatic: Pei was known for his use of concrete, which was inexpensive, and a good fit for a tight budget. At the same time, she says he had an amazing vision, and proved himself by doing spectacular work with limited materials.
"He designed and built in a modernist idiom. But he did so in a way that seemed to call into question many of the public's perceptions of modernism...it was cold, it was glass, it was steel, it was unfeeling. All you have to do is walk around in this building, take a spin up the spectacular staircase, walk around through the galleries, stand out in the plaza...you don't feel any of that. In a way, he cut against the grain of a lot of common perceptions of modernism."
Speaks says the Everson's design scripts and stages a person's movement around and through the building, as if you're part of a theatrical piece. Pei was known for creatively using natural light in his work. That might be hard to believe when looking at the Everson's solid walls, but it becomes more apparent inside. Director Elizabeth Dunbar says Pei was also involved in selecting some of the art that would be installed once the museum opened, and had a sense of the changing art scene.