Forget Retirement—Old Architects Make Masterpieces

By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Sep 14, 2008 4:40 PM CDT
Architect I.M. Pei poses next to a family picture in his downtown Manhattan office in 2002. He is the little boy in the picture on the left.   (Magnum Photos)
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(Newser) – Thinking of early retirement? Not if you're an architect, writes Witold Rybczynski in Slate. Few architects achieve greatness before middle age and many do after, such as Frank Gehry, Louis Kahn, and Le Corbusier, who all designed masterpieces in their sixties. "I want to spend whatever time I have left working," said IM Pei, 91, who recently designed China's embassy in Washington, DC.

Long careers are natural to the profession, which requires time to master complex technical and people skills. It's also easier to persuade clients and governments to back your visions once you have a proven track record—not to mention that you'll have dozens of eager assistants to compensate for your aching bones. "So once you finally get really good at it," writes Rybczynski, "why stop?"