By Ananth Sampathkumar, Partner—NDNY Architecture + Design
Cesar Pelli, the world-renowned Argentinian architect, died on July 19 at the age of 92 in New Haven, Connecticut. The architect gained international acclaim for the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, a pair of skyscrapers 1,483’ tall built from 1993-1996. The design combined Islamic iconography of the ‘Rub el Hizb,’ or two overlapping squares, with cutting edge technology to create the tallest buildings in the world at the time. Pelli’s firm has built other notable structures since then, including the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco and the North Terminal at Reagan International Airport, to name a few.
In New York, Pelli’s most recognizable buildings include the Pavilion at Brookfield Place, the Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City, New Jersey’s second tallest building, and to a lesser extent the Museum of Modern Art’s residential building in Midtown Manhattan.
Cesar Pelli’s contribution extended beyond architecture and into teaching as well. He was dean of the Yale School of Architecture from 1977 to 1984. The position was pivotal in Pelli’s decision to set up his practice in New Haven, Connecticut. Pelli co-founded his architectural studio with Fred Clarke at the age of 50, which is old even by architectural standards. Nevertheless, having been Eero Saarinen’s protégé, he was able to grow his business quickly and become one of the most influential architects of the late 20th century.
He was a well respected architect who was admired by his peers for his complex designs and attention to detail. During a lecture at the Design Museum, Pelli spoke about the proverbial music created by great architecture. His vision was for buildings that not only spoke but also sang to their audience. Pelli’s work is sublime and easy on the eye. His creations will continue to hum a quiet tune long after the creator’s demise.