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I.M. Pei Says Meyerson Among His Top 3 Most Important Buildings

by Quin Mathews 5 Sep 2014 6:00 PM

KERA contributor Quin Mathews was on the scene with I.M. Pei as the architect toured the Meyerson 25 years ago. Mathews takes a trip into the archives to bring us this audio postcard.



I.M. Pei in the Meyerson lobby. Photo: “Frozen Music”/KERA

  • Listen to Quin Mathews piece that aired on KERA this afternoon.


  • Watch Frozen Music: The Making of a Concert Hall on KERA TV at 8 tonight. Or check it out in the Archives chapter of Secrets of the Meyerson.

As construction workers raced to finish the Meyerson Symphony Center 25 years ago, Architect I.M. Pei toured the building he designed. He liked what he saw.

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

In this intallment of Secrets of the Meyerson KERA contributor Quin Mathews takes us back to hear from the man whose work created visual music for Dallas.

Standing in the hall amid the construction noise, 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. 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 third most important buildings in his career. Fast forward 15 years, in a seminar onstage at the Meyerson, Mathews asked him if it was still true.

“I think I do feel so. I still do. First of all, because, first of all, it’s the only symphony hall I’ve every done. (laughter) And I’m particularly pleased with the workmanship. The workmanship in this hall is really incredible.”

I-M Pei was in his sixties when he started working on the Meyerson Symphony Center. He is now 97.