About this artwork
The prevalence of geometric shapes in the work by I. M. Pei is evident in these early conceptual sketches. In both projects, the triangle is a primary device used to develop formal elements as well as logistical solutions. In the Harvard Square Scheme, the centrally located triangle evolved into a proposal for a large glass pyramid constructed from triangular glass windows. In his design for the East Building addition to the National Gallery of Art, Pei had to resolve the site’s small, irregular trapezoidal plot of land and connect with John Russell Pope’s 1941 neoclassical West Building while also fitting within the monumentality of the mall. Later Pei described his process: “I drew a diagonal line across the trapezoid and produced two triangles: one for the museum, the other for the study center. This was the beginning.” In both schemes, the triangle is an important component and emphasizes the central role geometry can play in design and situating architecture within a site.
Currently Off View
- Architecture and Design
- I. M. Pei (Architect)
- National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC: Concept Sketch for East Wing
- Red ballpoint ink on I.M. Pei letterhead note paper
- Signed at bottom right, "I.M. Pei"
- 13.9 × 19.7 cm (5 1/2 × 7 3/4 in.)
- Gift of I.M. Pei through Mr. and Mrs. Jay A. Pritzker