architecture

Architect Cesar Pelli dies after a storied career designing iconic buildings

Published 21st July 2019
HONG KONG, CHINA:  Argentinian architect Cesar Pelli smiles during an interview with AFP in Hong Kong, 17 March 2005. It was reported 24 March 2005 that with American architect Frank Gehry and Pelli joining the chase for the coveted 40-hectare West Kowloon project with Britain's Lord Norman Foster, the already controversial centre has become a design battleground where the world's greatest architects are striving to make their mark -- at a cost of up to some 40 billion USD.   AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ  (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Credit: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Architect Cesar Pelli dies after a storied career designing iconic buildings
Written by Holly Yan, CNN
From the United States to Malaysia, Cesar Pelli's legacy looms large in skylines around the world.
The famed architect, known for his innovative skyscrapers and use of colored glass, died at the age of 92.
"It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of our founder, mentor, and great friend, César," his business partner Fred W. Clarke tweeted Sunday.
"He was a gifted architect and teacher, two callings he effortlessly combined as one. I am profoundly grateful to my great friend and partner."
Cesar Pelli won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for designing the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Cesar Pelli won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for designing the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Credit: AFP/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The Argentine-born architect amassed more than 300 awards and 13 honorary degrees during his illustrious career, his firm's website says.
Among his most famous works: the colorful Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California, and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which won him the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
The Pacific Design Center in California opened in 1975, but is still viewed as an example of cutting-edge architecture.
The Pacific Design Center in California opened in 1975, but is still viewed as an example of cutting-edge architecture. Credit: RobynBeck/AFP/Getty Images
Pelli also designed New York's World Financial Center, now called Brookfield Place.
The glass-enclosed Winter Garden greenhouse is a highlight of Pelli's World Financial Center in Manhattan, now called Brookfield Place.
The glass-enclosed Winter Garden greenhouse is a highlight of Pelli's World Financial Center in Manhattan, now called Brookfield Place. Credit: VW Pics/Universal Images Group Editorial/Universal Images Group via Getty
But much of Pelli's legacy endures not in his buildings, but in his teachings.
He served as dean of Yale University's School of Architecture in 1977 to 1984 and wrote several books on his approach to architecture.
"Mr. Pelli has avoided formalistic preconceptions in his designs," his firm's website says.
'"He believes that buildings should be responsible citizens, and the aesthetic qualities of a building should grow from the specific characteristics of each project, such as its location, construction technology, and purpose."
Pelli designed the Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan, Italy.
Pelli designed the Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan, Italy. Credit: Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Architecture critics like Paul Goldberger credited Pelli with advancing the designs of modern skyscrapers.
"Very sad to hear of the death of Cesar Pelli, at 92," Goldberger tweeted.
"He was a warm and gracious man, a civilizing presence in his life and his work, an architect of great dignity and lively creativity who did as much as anyone in the last generation to evolve the form of the skyscraper."