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Apr. 26, 2013

I.M. Pei Turns 96; His N.Y. Condo Project is 80 Percent Occupied

By Jessica Fiur, News Editor

New York—I.M. Pei, the noted Chinese-American architect and oldest living Pritzker Prize winner, turns 96 today. His only condominium project, The Centurion in New York City, is currently 80 percent sold.

“This was the only condominium building that I.M. Pei designed,” Thomas Guss, president of New York Residence, The Centurion’s exclusive marketing agency, tells MHN. “He did that at the age of 90 in order to collaborate with his son Sandi because Sandi has done a lot of amazing commercial buildings but not residential.”

The Centurion includes 48 units. It was developed by Stillman Development International and Antonio Development. Amenities include a 24-hour doorman, a gym and valet parking. And, according to Guss, an unusual water feature.

“There is a stunning lobby with a private waterfall,” Guss says. “According to Asian beliefs, the waterfall increases the wealth of the people in the building, so one of the things we did a year ago was to heat it so that it could be used all year over, because you also want to be rich in the winter.”

Some of the remaining apartments include a triplex penthouse, which is dubbed the “Mansion in the Sky.” This triplex combines three penthouses into a single residence with 9,500 square feet of living space.

But of course, what’s truly special about the building is I.M. Pei’s design.

“What’s remarkable about this building is that it is built with a lot of European materials,” Guss says. “In New York, that is not the norm. Most New York developers have one thing in mind, and that is building efficiently. And this building is almost the opposite of that—it took a very long time to be built. A lot of the materials for the building were specifically sourced in Europe. For example, I.M. Pei wanted to use the same limestone for the building that he used for the foyer for the Louvre in Paris. So each piece of stone for the façade and lobby of the building had to come over from France. This is so because French limestone, as it ages, becomes more yellow in color, so the building has a warm glow, whereas American limestone becomes more gray as it ages, so the building would grow colder.”

Other notable I.M. Pei projects include the Pyramid entrance to the Louvre in Paris; Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong; Macao Science Center in Macau (in association with Pei Partnership Architects; National Gallery East Building in Washington, D.C.; and Raffles City in Singapore.

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