Internationally Renowned Architect I.M. Pei Leaves Rich Honolulu Design Legacy

Known for his stunning design and global reputation, I.M. Pei’s work at the University of Hawai‘i campus is a hidden treasure to many.
I.M. Pei Hawaii Jefferson Hall University of Hawaii Manoa
Jefferson Hall at the East-West center is one of the buildings designed by I.M. Pei.
PhotoS: Courtesy of Darren Bradley


When globally renowned architect I.M. Pei died last week at 102 in New York City, most news focused on his now-iconic glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris and the controversy that initially raged around it. But long before, Pei was working here in Honolulu, shaping a key section of the University of Hawai‘i campus.


Pei was commissioned to design a collection of buildings of the East-West Center, which was created by Congress in 1960 to forge connections in the Asia-Pacific region. The bold clean lines of his 1962 work at neighboring Kennedy Theatre, Jefferson Hall, now the Hawai‘i Imin International Conference Center, have long been admired by both those who knew it was Pei’s work and those who just happened to walk by. (The theater began as a joint project of UH and the East-West Center but was eventually turned over to UH.) But some of the subtle features of his aesthetic can only be fully appreciated with a closer look. In 2015, architectural photographer Darren Bradley, who’s from O‘ahu, did just that.

  Hale Manoa I.M. Pei Hawaii Darren Bradley

Hale Mānoa's open-air kitchen.


Bradley compared the Hale Mānoa dormitory that Pei also designed to buildings in France that inspired it. And he highlighted some way-ahead-of-trend design details that included open-air communal dorm kitchens for the students who came from across the Asia and Pacific to study at the center.

  Jefferson Hall I.M. Pei Hawaii Darren Bradley


Bradley, who now lives in California, gave us permission to share his photos and story with our readers.


To read more, go to his blog:


Sounds like another cool reason to visit the Mānoa campus and check out the East-West Center’s latest programs.