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Architectural Photography & Stories

César Pelli

César Pelli

Last Friday architect César Pelli died at the age of 92. Pelli designed ionic buildings all over the world. He was known for his use of glass, his skyline defining towers, many of which held the tallest in the world records at one point like the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, which held the record from 1998 - 2004.

Los Angeles, Pacific Design Center RED Building

Born in a small town in northern Argentina, Pelli moved to the United States for school and ended up launching his career with Eero Saarinen, an American modernist architect who designed the building featured in my last journal entry, the Ingalls Rink in New Haven, Connecticut.

Pelli worked with Saarinen on some of his most celebrated buildings like the TWA Flight Center and the Ezra Stiles College/Morse college buildings at Yale University.

I have not formally photographed any of Pelli’s buildings, not even the Rockefeller Center inspired Wells Fargo building in my hometown of Minneapolis, which is one of my all time favorite designs of his, but I did capture a few frames of the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles a couple years a go while in town working on an unrelated project. The PDC is a massive complex that remains controversial to this day for its scale relative to its residential neighbors and its bright colored glass.

The Pacific Design Center is made up of three glass buildings: a massive blue building known as the Blue Whale, a green one and finally the red glass building pictured above which was completed 38 years following the first building.

Pelli worked on the Pacific Design Center for 40 years. He once said, I have worked on this my whole life. It has become a very special baby to me.”

Los Angeles, Pacific Design Center BLUE Building

I don’t know much about Pelli beyond what I have read recently, but I am greatly inspired by his life and work. I look forward to photographing and experiencing more of Pelli’s buildings around the world.


To learn more about César Pelli’s career check out the wonderful NYT piece by Fred A Bernstein and Paul Goldberger. For more information and background on the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, Shelby Grad penned a great piece for the LA Times.