INSIDE THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM BY I.M. PEI
Today, we are talking about one of the most unconventional architects and designers of the 20th-century: the late I.M. Pei and the realization of peculiar buildings that still carry the architect’s signature style. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (Cleveland, USA) is an ode to the music and the material representation of rock and roll music, just the way he envisioned it. As an exponent of the modernism and strict follower of its values of simplicity and geometry, his buildings were always considered too unconventional and he wasn’t exempted from receiving critics, despite the fact that later in time the same building would have been celebrated with ardor for their own stylistic manifestation. A forward-looking personality that was imprinted forever in his building – too eccentric for their period but, right now, they are the visible legacy of a great architect. Do you want to know more about THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM BY I.M. PEI? Keep reading!
ABOUT I.M. PEI
Born in China in 1917, he emigrated to the United States to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design. It was during this period that he started to research Le Corbusier and became friends of the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer: their influences will be a permanent fixture of his style. After a stint as an advisor on the most effective way on how to bomb building for the National Defense Resource Council during the II WW – where he put his knowledge at work – he started to attract fame with the realization of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, when he was chosen despite his being practically unknown. Since then, I.M. Pei has become the go-to choice for the realization of civic centers and cultural institutions for his illuminated way of reshaping architecture. As the of the 1983 Pritzker Prize noted: “He has refused to limit himself to a narrow range of architectural problems. His versatility and skill in the use of materials approach the level of poetry”.
THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM BY I.M. PEI
As the most unexpected choice – Pei admitted to listening to more classical music and not having much knowledge of rock and roll – the Cleveland project displayed the architect’s versatility and prowess in overcoming obstacles. His fondness for geometric shapes and clean lines is well represented in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s unusual shape, “a bold and new architectural vocabulary” that convey the rock and roll spirit. Just some year earlier Pei became a sensation for putting an extremely modern glass pyramid as the entrance of the Louvre – as a way of modernizing an ill-suited location and improve the visitors’ traffic – and creating a debate about the resulting stylistic contrast with the more classical façade of the adjacent buildings.
The Hall of Fame project – finished in 1995 – saw the combination of simple geometric shapes, built above the Lake Erie, in Cleveland. A 162-foot-tower was chosen as the central supporting system from which twin triangular-shaped glass structures and a circular drum extend from different sides: the result is an exhibition space divided into eight floors of decreasing sizes that attract balconies, stairs, bridges, and escalators that allow visitors to move among the different sections.
White, squared metal panels cover the building façade and create, in this way, a visual continuum, broken only by the glass triangular tents. In front of the building a 65,000-square-foot plaza, made of concrete, resonates with its circular platform, a central floral bed, and a performing stage. In 1998 the building received the Engineering Excellence Award from the New York Association of Consulting Engineers and, in the same year, the Award for Innovative Design and Excellence in Architecture Using Structural Steel from the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Steel Construction.
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