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Cesar Pelli

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Cesar Pelli is said to be one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. His firm Cesar Pelli & Associates designs mostly commercial offices and homes and is based in New Haven. He is responsible for designing structures such as the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the San Bernadino City Hall in San Bernadino, California, and the World Financial Center and Winter Garden in Battery Park, New York.


[edit] History

[edit] Birth and Early Life

Pelli was born in 1926 in Tucuman, Argentina. He studied architecture and received his bachelor's degree at the University of Tucuman in 1949. During this time, he married another student of the university, Diana Balmori, a landscape and urban designer for Balmori Associates. After graduation, Pelli became the director of design of a government-sponsored organization for subsidized housing, called OFEMPE. He won a scholarship from the Institute of International Education in 1952 and used it to attend the University of Illinois School of Architecture in Campagne-Urbana. Upon completion of his studies in 1954, he earned an M.A. in Architecture.[1]

Pelli went on to work as a designer with the firm Eero Saarinen & Associates (based in Michigan and Connecticut). Saarinen became one of Pelli’s greatest influences. It is with this firm that Pelli designed the TWA Terminal Building at JFK Airport and the Morse and Stiles colleges at Yale University. He left the firm after Saarinen’s death.

Pelli began developing a reputation as a modern designer whose talents could be relied upon. Although he did return to his native home on occasions, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1964.[2]

As an American citizen, Pelli accepted the post of director and vice president of design at Daniel, Mann, Johnson, & Mendenhall (DMJM) in Los Angeles. Within four years, he also obtained partnership with Gruen Associates and spent some time as a professor at the University of California. His best-known projects at this time included the San Bernadino City Hall, the Commons of Columbus in Indiana, the Pacific Design Center, and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.[3]

[edit] Cesar Pelli & Associates

Pelli did not start his own firm until he was well into his fifties. He founded Cesar Pelli & Associates in New Haven in 1977. His private firm, which houses more than 60 architects, has been responsible for designing structures such as the World Financial Center, Winter Garden at Batter Park City in Manhattan, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Norwest Center in Minnesota, the North Terminal at Washington National Airport and the Petronas Twin Towers.

Pelli has become world-renown for his sleek, modern, and practical designs. The World Financial Center that he designed consisted of four office towers with varying heights of 34 to 51 stories.

[edit] Petronas Twin Towers

Pelli assisted in the design the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; they were completed in 1996, two years after construction began. The multi-billion dollar project prompted input from architects from all over the world and became one of the tallest buildings on the face of the earth.[4]

A compilation of components embracing the Malaysian culture, both towers appear to overlap at one point, bringing together heaven and earth to create eight points. The buildings connect on the 41st and the 42nd floors by a bridge. Although Pelli is largely credited for the design, eight firms throughout Asia, Europe, and North America assisted in the creation.[5]

With the help of construction firms Hazama Corp. and Samsung Construction, both towers were successfully constructed as per Pelli’s design. More than 7000 workers were on the site during peak time. The most difficult aspect of construction was the bridge, which required the assistance of VSL Heavy Lifting Firm. It took the firm 32 hours to lift the bridge with elevated cranes and lifting jacks into place.[6]

[edit] In His Own Words

A self-described pragmatist, Pelli’s interest in design extends to an interest and respect in science. He enjoys devising structures that create illusions with glass and creations with colors.

He has said of his passion:

“I have always felt, unquestionably, that there is strength and energy flowing all around us. There is energy in the projects themselves, and I like to tap into that energy and not fight it.”[7]

“It is not mystical. There are certain directions that the project wants to go. If you follow them, the project can go very far because it will be sustained by financial reasons, by construction needs, and by emotional preferences, and therefore again the support of many critical and important people representing those different aspects of the problem.”[8]

[edit] Awards

Pelli’s contribution as an architect can be felt not only by his vast portfolio of projects and his distinct signature on buildings, but also in the institutions that have recognized him. He has won several awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Institute of Architects, the National Academy of Design, and the International Academy of Architecture. In 1995, he won the AIA Gold Medal and the Charles Bulfinch Award. The Connecticut State Arts gave him the only award to go to an architect.

In addition, he has received many honorary degrees and was one of the first American Architects to receive a First Class Licensure in Japan.[9]

[edit] Major Projects

[edit] Recent Projects

In 2007, he was commissioned by Duke University to plan a 20- to 50-year revitalization of the central campus.

[edit] References

  1. Encyclopedia of World Biography: Cesar Pelli., 2008-09-25.
  2. Pastier, John. Cesar Pelli. Whitney Library of Design: New York, 1980.
  3. Encyclopedia of World Biography: Cesar Pelli., 2008-09-25.
  4. Encyclopedia of World Biography: Cesar Pelli., 2008-09-25.
  5. Pelli, Cesar and Crosbie, Michael J. Petronas Twin Towers. Wiley-Academy: Chichester, 2001.
  6. Henry, Brandi. Petronas Towers: Construction of the Towers. Illumin, 2008-09-25.
  7. Pastier, John. Cesar Pelli. Whitney Library of Design: New York, 1980.
  8. Pastier, John. Cesar Pelli. Whitney Library of Design: New York, 1980.
  9. Encyclopedia of World Biography: Cesar Pelli., 2008-09-25.