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Listen To I.M. Pei As He Toured The Meyerson, One Of His Most Important Buildings

"Frozen Music"/KERA
I.M. Pei in the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. The center marks its 25th anniversary this year.

As construction workers raced to finish the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas 25 years ago, architect I.M. Pei toured the building he designed. He liked what he saw. In this installment of Art&Seek's Secrets of the Meyerson,KERA contributor Quin Mathews takes us back to hear from Pei.

“Some people, when they look at the outside, say it looks like a musical instrument. Now I’m very happy about that, you know.”

Standing in the hall amid the construction noise, I.M. Pei told Mathews that the Meyerson "stands for something in the city.

"Some people, when they look at the outside, say it looks like a musical instrument," Pei said. "Now I’m very happy about that, you know. At the same time they have to judge this building, is this a building that they can be proud of, that they would like to see as one of their public buildings? So therefore a certain amount of monumentality if you wish, a certain aspect, has to be expressed. I want them to want to come in. And I also want them to be proud, to be able to point to friends and visitors, this is our symphony hall. That’s all."

At the time, Pei was probably the most famous and popular architect in the world. He had originally turned down this project because he had not done a concert hall. Stanley Marcus got him to reconsider.

In 1989, when the hall opened, Pei said it was one of the two or three most important buildings in his career.

Fast forward 15 years. In a seminar onstage at the Meyerson, Mathews asked Pei if that was still true.

"I think I do feel so," Pei said. "I still do. ... First of all, it’s the only symphony hall I’ve ever done. And I’m particularly pleased with the workmanship. The workmanship in this hall is really incredible."

Pei was in his 60s when he started working on the Meyerson. He is now 97.