Architect Cesar Pelli dies at 92 after storied career

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NEW HAVEN, CONN. — From the United States to Malaysia, Cesar Pelli’s legacy looms large in skylines around the world.

The famed architect, known for his innovative skyscrapers and use of colored glass, died at the age of 92. “It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of our founder, mentor, and great friend, César,” his business partner Fred W. Clarke tweeted Sunday. “He was a gifted architect and teacher, two callings he effortlessly combined as one. I am profoundly grateful to my great friend and partner.”

The Argentine-born architect amassed more than 300 awards and 13 honorary degrees during his illustrious career, his firm’s website says.

Among his most famous works: the colorful Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California, and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which won him the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Pelli also designed New York’s World Financial Center, now called Brookfield Place.

But much of Pelli’s legacy endures not in his buildings, but in his teachings. He served as dean of Yale University’s School of Architecture in 1977 to 1984 and wrote several books on his approach to architecture.

“Mr. Pelli has avoided formalistic preconceptions in his designs,” his firm’s website says. ‘”He believes that buildings should be responsible citizens, and the aesthetic qualities of a building should grow from the specific characteristics of each project, such as its location, construction technology, and purpose.”

Architecture critics like Paul Goldberger credited Pelli with advancing the designs of modern skyscrapers.

“Very sad to hear of the death of Cesar Pelli, at 92,” Goldberger tweeted. “He was a warm and gracious man, a civilizing presence in his life and his work, an architect of great dignity and lively creativity who did as much as anyone in the last generation to evolve the form of the skyscraper.”

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