The architect IM Pei influenced Irvine

The world recently stopped to celebrate the life of its most revered architect, IM Pei.

One of his most famous works is the entrance of the glass pyramid to the Louvre in Paris; the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston; and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC

The New York Times wrote that his buildings “blinded the world,” but Pei was known for his humility and willingness to give back to the profession.

“I was fortunate to have IM Pei influenced my career,” said John Koga, vice president of planning and design for Irvine Company. “IM Pei taught us all about the beauty of geometry and material authenticity in architecture.”

Pei, born in China in 1917, was a modernist architect who, according to the Times, advocated “clean, restrained, sharp-edged” design.

Architect Magazine noted that when Pei received the highest award in the industry – the Pritzker Prize – the judges announced that he “gave this century its most beautiful interior and exterior”.

The Irvine Company selected IM Pei’s architectural firm – Pei Cobb Freed & Partners – to design the most iconic building in the city: the Irvine Spectrum Towers. The sister towers define the Irvine skyline.

Pei’s legacy in Irvine

Pei’s consistent philosophy of beautiful interiors and exteriors inspired the Irvine Company to select his company – Pei Cobb Freed & Partners – to design the company’s most iconic buildings, including the Irvine Spectrum Towers.

Today, the 21-story sister towers define the Irvine skyline and reflect the rhythm of the day.

The buildings, made almost entirely of glass, appear almost invisible as they blend with the blue sky that surrounds them. At dusk, the towers radiate the colors of the rising and setting sun. And at night the lights of the Irvine Spectrum Center rise on the sides of the buildings.

This is all intentional and the product of the architectural vision shared by the Irvine Company and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

The towers were strategically positioned and angled to capture the best light. And its location in the heart of the Irvine Spectrum District creates a distinctive core for the city of Irvine and Orange County.

“Their beauty lies in the simplicity of the form,” says Koga. “You have become the skyline of the Spectrum District.”

The unique Viracon glass on the Irvine Spectrum
Towers appear almost invisible against the blue sky, yet they also reflect their surroundings, from the palm trees to the mountains to the setting sun.

This is because the towers, along with the mall and shared apartments, were designed as part of the Spectrum District’s master plan to create a live, work-play environment.

In contrast to most high-rise buildings, the two towers are located on spacious plots that allow a breathtaking view of the glass and steel facades from the floor.

In addition to the Irvine Spectrum Towers, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners designed the soon-to-be-opened Spectrum Terrace, the modern office campus with nine glazed office buildings near the intersection of freeways 405 and 133.

The Irvine Company has also partnered with the New York-based firm on two Newport Beach office towers: 520 Newport Center Drive, a 21-story tower wrapped in travertine and glass; and 650 Newport Center Drive, which is where PIMCO’s global headquarters are located.

When Pei died in May at the age of 102, the New York Times noted that what he most valued in architecture was that it should “stand the test of time.”

Fortunately, Pei’s legacy of beautiful interiors and exteriors lives on in Irvine and Orange Counties.

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