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César Pelli: 1926—: Architect

Years In New York And Los Angeles

During his ten years with Saarinen as an associate architect, Pelli worked on one of the firm's most significant commissions, the Trans World Airlines Terminal Building at John F. Kennedy International Airport outside New York City. He was also involved in the design and construction of the Morse and Stiles Colleges at Yale University. In 1964 Pelli joined Daniel, Mann, Johnson, & Mendenhall, a Los Angeles architectural firm, as its director of design. In 1968 he became a design partner with Gruen Associates, another Los Angeles firm, and spent the next eight years there. During that time, Pelli designed the earliest examples of what would become his own landmark architectural style, the Pacific Design Center and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

At a Glance . . .

Born October 12, 1926, in San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina; immigrated to the United States, 1952; naturalized citizen, 1964; son of Victor V. and Teresa S. Pelli; married Diana Balmori, December 15, 1950; children: Rafael, Denis. Education: University of Tucumán, Dip.Arch., 1949; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, M.S.Arch., 1954.

Career: Began career in Argentina for agency responsible for subsidized housing; Eero Saarinen and Associates, Bloomfield Hills, MI, and Hamden, CT, associate architect, 1954-64; Daniel, Mann, Johnson, & Mendenhall, Los Angeles, director of design, 1964-68; Gruen Associates, Los Angeles, design partner, 1968-76; César Pelli and Associates, New Haven, CT, principal, 1977–. Dean of the School of Architecture, Yale University, 1977-84; has taught extensively in the United States and South America.

Member: American Institute of Architects.

Awards: Firm of the Year, American Institute of Architects (AIA), 1989; AIA named Pelli as one of the ten most influential living American architects, 1991; AIA Gold Medal, 1995; Charles Bulfinch Award; American Academy of Arts and Letters (academician); International Academy of Architecture (academician).

In 1977 Pelli was appointed dean of the Yale School of Architecture. He also decided to open an architectural firm in the New Haven area, realizing that he might miss some of the more creative design aspects of his work. He told Time, "I came east without a [design] job, without connections, without a client, nothing. My intention was to be a teacher—and maybe do kitchen additions." With his wife, he founded César Pelli and Associates in New Haven, and proceeded to win a far more impressive commission than a kitchen renovation: the renovation project for New York City's Museum of Modern Art, with the addition of a residential tower. Pelli asked a former colleague, Fred W. Clarke, to join him, and by 1984 César Pelli and Associates had won so many top commissions that Pelli decided to resign from his position at Yale. One of his landmark buildings from this era was the World Financial Center and Winter Garden at Battery Park in New York City, adjacent to the World Trade Center complex. According to the Encyclopedia of World Biography, this project was hailed as one of the ten best works of American architecture designed since 1980. Its four towers and landscaped public plaza opened in 1988. The commission helped earn César Pelli and Associates the AIA's 1989 Gold Medal for Firm of the Year.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - PersonalCésar Pelli: 1926—: Architect Biography - Won American Scholarship, Years In New York And Los Angeles, Designed World's Tallest Building