César Pelli, architect of some of the world’s iconic tall buildings, has died
The designer of skyscrapers including London’s One Canada Square and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur died at home in Connecticut on Friday (19 July).
Pelli was born in San Miguel de Tucumán in Argentina and studied at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán before moving to the University of Illinois School of Architecture to complete his postgraduate qualifications.
He started his career working for Eero Saarinen and took part in the design of the iconic TWA terminal at John F Kennedy International Airport and several buildings at Yale University.
Cesar Pelli & Associates was founded in 1977 after the architect won a competition to extend the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Other commissions during this period include the Wells Fargo Center in Minneapolis and the World Financial Center in New York.
In 1991 Pelli’s One Canada Square completed, providing a centrepiece to the Canary Wharf regeneration zone in London’s former docklands. It was the tallest building in the UK until Renzo Piano’s The Shard was completed in 2012.
The 450m-high Petronas Towers, completed in 1997, remained the world’s tallest until 2004.
Other Pelli schemes in the UK include the 17-storey apartment block One Park West at the RIBA Stirling Prize-nominated Liverpool One, completed in 2008.
During his career, Pelli received both the AIA Gold Medal and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. He was also granted a lifetime achievement award by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
Pelli’s wife died in 2016 and he is survived by his two sons – one of which, Rafael, is a senior principal at his practice – and two granddaughters.
Gene Kohn of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
César Pelli made an outstanding contribution to the architectural profession and the evolution of the skyscraper. César was a personal friend and a man who was loved by all who met him and he will be greatly missed. Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects was founded just a year after KPF and we have followed their development and admired their work, as a respected peer and competitor, for nearly five decades.
One Canada Square put Canary Wharf on the map and remains a beacon today
César’s work has made a lasting impact on the London skyline, One Canada Square put Canary Wharf on the map and remains a beacon for the area today.