Internationally-renown modernist architect, I.M. Pei, designed some of the world’s most recognizable buildings. From his iconic addition to the Louvre in Paris, France to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, his work brought a sculptural element to the skylines of many cities. Pei used arrangements of simple geometric shapes, triangles, circles and squares to honor the time, place and purpose of whatever he was commissioned to create.

Here is our list of the best places around the globe to see examples of Pei’s stunning work.

The Grande Pyramide is lit up at night in front of the Louvre's main buildings
Perhap's one of Pei's most controversial designs, the Grande Pyramide is also the most recognizable © Kla Karava / Getty Images

Louvre Pyramid

Nearly as dazzling as the cherished collection in the Louvre, the Grand Pyramide is a 21m-high glass pyramid that serves as the main entrance to the museum. Shimmering sunbeams filter through the 673 glass-panes as art-lovers are guided effectively through a subterranean network in order to ascend into the museum’s main buildings.

Commissioned among major controversy, including Pei not being sufficiently French, and the worry that the modernist-design did not honor the French Renaissance style of the Louvre, the pyramid remains a much debated but iconic example of Pei’s style.

The facade of the museum is reflected perfectly in the water below
The Sūzhōu Museum has a wonderful collection and honors the garden traditions in Pei's hometown © Superjoseph / Getty Images

Sūzhōu Museum

Featuring a fascinating collection of ancient Chineses art, this museum is one of Pei’s most recent designs built in his home-town Sūzhōu, China. As such, Pei took inspiration from a traditional Sūzhōu garden and its confluence of water, bamboo and straight lines to create a building that both honors the past and creates a new path for the future.

Don’t wear flip flops when you visit the museum and be sure to take note of its surroundings. It is adjacent to the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the largest of Sūzhōu’s gardens. Often considered to be the most impressive garden, it is also the most crowded. Visit early in the morning before heading to the museum.

People enjoy the space while looking out onto a verdant green valley
Pei made every effort to ensure his buildings were in harmony with the natural surroundings © Tim Hughes / Getty Images

Miho Museum

In Shiga Prefecture, Japan the Miho Museum is accessed via a footpath and a long pedestrian tunnel Pei had drilled through a mountain that opens onto a gorge. It feels like a secret hideout in a futuristic farmhouse and the view is stunning to say the least. Pei came to call this particular building Shangri-La, because of its seamless harmony with the natural landscape. The design also pays homage to the ornate temples in neighboring Kyoto.

While the collection originally included mostly rare antique Japanese tea ceremony utensils, Pei encouraged collector Mihoko Koyama to expand her collection. He was making adjustments to the design of the building even during construction to accommodate new additions.

The white cubic structure of the museum grows out of an island with a boat in the forefront
The Islamic Museum of Art was one of I.M. Pei's last designs.

Museum of Islamic Art

The exceedingly impressive Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar houses the largest collection of Islamic art in the world. Pei’s design has the museum rising from its own purpose-built island and set in an extensive landscape of lawns and ornamental trees. The building itself is a masterpiece of light and space, drawing your eyes up to the dome, a clever modern take on an element so prevalent in Islamic architecture.

The collection is vast, so pace yourself by enjoying the splendid views across the water, the cafe downstairs or the top-floor IDAM restaurant, which just happens to be one of Doha’s best.

the white structure of rectangles, triangles and cylinders glows against a dark sky
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame embodies the music it honors with rebellious design and energetic lines © Tim Hughes / Getty Images

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum

Who wouldn’t be inspired by generations worth of the best music to rock your socks off? Pei initially turned down the invitation to design the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because he preferred Jazz to Rock and Roll, however, after changing his mind, he spent a week traveling with Jann Wenner the then-publisher of Rolling Stone, to Memphis and New Orleans to explore the links between Rock and Jazz.

The result was impressive. Pei’s design is meant to celebrate the youthful energy and rebellion that Rock exemplifies. Wings burst from the pyramid of the main building while a cantilevered theater hangs over Lake Erie. It is a stunning place to explore your favorite musical giants.

The Luce Memorial Chapel a tee pee shaped structure glows green in twighlight
The Luce Memorial Chapel is one of Pei's earlier workers, built in 1963 © Robert CGH / Getty Images

Other amazing buildings designed by I.M. Pei

This is not, by any means, and exhaustive list. Check out these other amazing examples of Pei’s modernist vision if you happen to be traveling near.

National Gallery of Art: East Building - Washington D.C.

Luce Memorial Chapel - Taichung, Taiwan

Mudam - Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

John F Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum - Boston, Massachusetts

Morton H Meyerson Symphony Center - Dallas, Texas

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