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Biographical Information

Name: César Pelli
Full name: César Antonio Pelli
Born on 12 October 1926 in , Tucumán, Argentina, South America
Deceased on 19 July 2019 in , Tucumán, Argentina, South America
Place(s) of activity:

Early life and education

Pelli was born October 12, 1926, in Tucuman, Argentina. Pelli attended the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. In 1952, he became a student at the University of Illinois School of Architecture where he received his Master of Science in Architecture degree in 1954.


Early years

In 1952, Pelli moved to the United States with his wife, Diana Balmori (deceased in 2016), and became a naturalized citizen in 1964. After his graduation from the University of Illinois School of Architecture, Pelli worked for Eero Saarinen in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan for ten years. While with Eero, he worked on the TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Morse and Stiles Colleges at Yale University.

In 1964, he became director of design at Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall in Los Angeles. In 1965, Pelli designed the Sunset Mountain Park Urban Nucleus (an unbuilt project). In 1968 Pelli became partner for design at Gruen Associates in Los Angeles. In 1969, Pelli designed the COMSAT research and development laboratories in Clarksburg, Maryland. Pelli designed the landmark first building at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California, which was completed 1975. The United States Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, was designed by Pelli in 1972 and completed in 1975. While practicing in Los Angeles, Pelli taught in the architecture program at UCLA.


In 1977, Pelli was selected to be the dean of the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, Connecticut, and served in that post until 1984. Shortly after Pelli arrived at Yale, he won the commission to design the expansion and renovation of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which resulted in the establishment of his own firm, Cesar Pelli & Associates. The museum's expansion/renovation and the Museum of Modern Art Residential Tower were completed 1984; the World Financial Center in New York, which includes the grand public space of the Winter Garden, was completed in 1988. Among other significant projects during this period are the Crile Clinic Building in Cleveland, Ohio, completed 1984; Herring Hall at Rice University in Houston, Texas (also completed 1984); completion in 1988 of the Green Building at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California; and the construction of the Wells Fargo Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1989.


Pelli was named one of the ten most influential living American Architects by the American Institute of Architects in 1991. In 1995, he was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal. In May 2004, Pelli was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University. In 2005, Pelli was honored with the Connecticut Architecture Foundation's Distinguished Leadership Award.

Buildings during this period are marked by further experimentation with a variety of materials (most prominently stainless steel) and Pelli's evolution of the skyscraper. One Canada Square at Canary Wharf in London (opened in 1991); Plaza Tower in Costa Mesa, California (completed 1991); and the NTT Headquarters in Tokyo (finished 1995) were preludes to a landmark project that Pelli designed for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Petronas Towers were completed in 1997, sheathed in stainless steel and reflecting Islamic design motifs. The dual towers were the world's tallest buildings until 2004. That year, Pelli received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the design of the Petronas Towers Pelli's design for the National Museum of Art in Osaka, Japan was completed 2005, the same year that Pelli's firm changed its name to Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects to reflect the growing roles of senior principals Fred W. Clarke and Rafael Pelli.


The Cira Centre on the Schuylkill River, designed by Pelli, opened in January 2006. Pelli designed the master plan for Cira Centre South, the tallest building dedicated to student housing in the United States. The building houses students of the University of Pennsylvania and was completed in 2014. He was also the architect of the 730-foot luxury mixed-use skyscraper FMC Tower as part of the Cira Centre South development.

This period has seen the completion of several cultural/civic projects designed by Pelli. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, opened in 2006, the same year that Pelli's design for the Minneapolis Central Library completed construction, as well as the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and Samueli Theater in Costa Mesa, California. Pelli designs for office towers and developments throughout Asia and South America have been completed in the past decade. In 2012, the three-building Pacific Design Center, which Pelli designed 40 years earlier while at Gruen Associates, was completed with the addition of the Red Building.

In May 2008, Pelli was given an honorary Doctor of Arts degree by Yale University. That same year, he received the Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. In 2012, Pelli was honored with the platinum Konex Award for architecture and the diamond Konex Award for visual arts.

Text imported from Wikipedia article "César Pelli" and modified on 20 July 2019 according to the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.

Structures and Projects

Participation in the following structures & large-scale projects:




  1. Pelli, César / León García, Enrique / Ortiz Díez de Tortosa, Iñigo (2008): Torre de Cristal. Arquitectura. In: Hormigón y acero, v. 59, n. 249 (3rd Quarter 2008), pp. 61-68.

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