January 17, 2024
by: AIA New York
Headshot of Chien Chung "Didi" Pei, AIA
Chien Chung "Didi" Pei, AIA, Partner, PEI Architects. Photo: Courtesy Fred Marcus Photography.

Chien Chung Pei, AIA, passed away on December 12, 2023. Known as Didi to friends and colleagues, he was a member of AIA New York beginning in 1980, participating regularly in chapter programs and networks. Along with many years of participation, he chaired the American Institute of Architects’ Delano & Aldrich/Emerson Fellowship committee in 2002. He regularly engaged in civic life through non-profit boards and associations such as the Century Association, The Architectural League, Harvard University Graduate School of Design Alumni Council, and the Committee of 100. He also led the China Institute as Chairman of the Board of Trustees over the last 10 years.

He began his professional career working with his father, I.M. Pei, on projects including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the West Wing of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Grand Louvre in Paris. In 1992, he launched Pei Partnership Architects (now PEI Architects) with his brother, Li Chung (Sandi) Pei.

With projects in Europe, Asia, South and North America, Didi Pei’s influence spans the globe. Just a few of the award-winning projects in his portfolio include Guanajuato State Library in Leon, Mexico (recipient of the 2009 AIA/ALA Library Building Award), Faria Lima B32 in Sao Paolo, Brazil (recipient of Built Design Awards Honorable Mention 2022), Macau Dancing Water Theater in Cotai, Macau (recipient of a 2010 AIA New York State Citation for Design), the Suzhou Museum, Suzhou, China (recipient of a 2008 Business Week/Architectural Record China Award), and the Chateau Lynch-Bages Winery in Paulliac, France (recipient of the National Stone Institute’s 2022 Tucker Design Award for Design Excellence). All together, he facilitated a body of work which includes architectural landmarks that leave lasting imprints, enhance surroundings, and stand the test of time.

AIA New York compiled the following tributes from our community:

“One of my many great memories of Didi was waiting in the lobby of I.M. Pei & Partners with trepidation and excitement about starting to work and seeing this wonderful smile as Didi came to welcome me to the Louvre team in 1983. His support over the years working with him on the Museum was profound and so very kind. As a young architect, there is an anxiety to do your best and Didi’s ability to encourage us on the team was immensely important. His leadership and mentorship set the table for me to move forward with my career with great hope and optimism.”

Lorcan O’Herlihy, FAIA, Founding Principal, Creative Director, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects


“Didi was a talented architect who brought a dedicated and innovative focus to his work. He helped his father tremendously with the Grand Louvre in Paris where he helped smooth the path for a very challenging design that began as a controversy but became a beloved symbol of France. His work with his brother Sandi has carried on the valued traditions of his father. He is missed.”

George H. Miler, FAIA, COO + Partner, Meier Partners Architects, LLP


“In his life and work, Chien Chung ‘Didi’ Pei represented the essence of architecture and the humanity of our discipline: studied, thoughtful, empathetic, supportive, and quietly brilliant while delivering elegant, economic, and political solutions for our built environment. He contributed to a worldwide collection of timeless projects that define how we thrive, live and work in places that provide us with purpose, optimism, and delight.

Above all, he was both gracious and assertive in the idea that the architect was the aggregator of expertise and opportunity, whether a small project with great impact or a major project with lasting importance. Didi cared deeply about outcomes, and in the long tradition of the Pei legacy, understood how to make buildings that lasted well beyond any individual’s participation. I thank him for being a friend and mentor and offer my appreciation as a citizen of the world. We will all miss his commitment and capacity.”

Rob Rogers, FAIA, Founder, Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers


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