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John F. Kennedy, Library, Harvard Square Scheme

A work made of blue ballpoint pen ink on 3-hole punched notebook paper.

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  • A work made of blue ballpoint pen ink on 3-hole punched notebook paper.




I. M. Pei
American, born China 1917–2019

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.


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Architecture and Design


I. M. Pei (Architect)


John F. Kennedy, Library, Harvard Square Scheme


Cambridge (Building address)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Blue ballpoint pen ink on 3-hole punched notebook paper


Initialed and dated at bottom left, "10 Nov 66/ I.M"; signed at bottom right, "I.M. Pei"


21.2 × 28 cm (8 3/8 × 11 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of I.M. Pei through Mr. and Mrs. Jay A. Pritzker

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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