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Cesar Pelli: The Art of Building Harmony

12th October 2023. ON THIS DAY. 

“Society is the ultimate recipient of all buildings. Citizens have the right to expect that every new building will contribute to a better city and a more humane world.”

– Cesar Pelli

The renowned Argentine-American architect Cesar Pelli is well-known for his avant-garde architectural designs and towering skyscrapers. His vast portfolio spans a variety of buildings, from the World Financial Centre in New York City to the well-known Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia. Cesar Pelli’s design philosophy was based on the notion that structures need to improve the lives of those who utilise them, blend in harmoniously with their surroundings, and favourably impact their cities. His work, for which he received many honours and distinctions, still influences and shapes the architectural community.

Cesar Pelli: The Architect

Pelli’s varied array of work demonstrated his artistic vision. His designs were notable for their originality, practicality, and environmental awareness. The Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, possibly his most well-known design, demonstrated his ability to combine technology and cultural history. The towers, which stood for Malaysia’s entry into the modern era while honouring its Islamic past, were a manifestation of Pelli’s belief that local surroundings and legacy should be respected.

Petronas Twin Tower Malaysia: Timing, Location and Things to Do | Veena World
Petronas Twin Tower. Courtesy: Veena World

Pelli frequently used glass facades in his work in novel ways, including coloured glass panels that gave his designs a dynamic touch. Using bright blue glass, the Pacific Design Centre in Los Angeles, one of his most well-known works, changed a typical building type into a vivid and colourful structure. Pelli’s imaginative design made this structure, dubbed the “Blue Whale,” a happy addition to the Los Angeles skyline.

About Us - Pacific Design Center
Cesar Pelli Buildings. Courtesy: Pacific Design Center

Cesar Pelli Design Philosophy

According to Cesar Pelli, building ought to reflect its surroundings and meet the demands of its people. He disregarded inflexible design philosophies in favour of highlighting the value of regional materials and finding creative solutions to design problems. Instead of adhering to a set aesthetic, he always let the particular circumstances of each project inform his design choices. His mindset was based on humility, which persisted even as his company expanded and his creations won praise from all around the world.

Pelli’s work was motivated by his dedication to improving and humanising cities. He thought it was the duty of architects to design structures that improved the urban environment and the lives of their constituents. His designs served as living proof of this idea, offering individuals comfortable, useful homes that blended in perfectly with their surroundings.

flyreagan.com - Terminal A Renovation
Courtesy: Regan National Airport

Pelli defied conventional design conventions in the Ronald Reagan National Airport Terminal by emphasising accessibility and aesthetic clarity, proving his commitment to designing areas that met the demands of a variety of user groups. His structures were designed to make their occupants’ life easier and the cities they lived in better.

Pelli’s Range of Projects

Cesar Pelli completed a wide range of projects all around the world over his remarkable career. Pelli was known for his unique architectural designs, which can be seen in everything from the U.S. Embassy in Japan to the Canary Wharf Towers in London and the enlargement and renovation of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Our Canary Wharf Building Portfolio - Canary Wharf Group
Cesar Pelli Canary Wharf Tower. Courtesy: CW Group

His 62-story Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, which makes use of repurposed materials and natural light to produce an aesthetically pleasing and energy-efficient building, is a prime example of his sustainable design philosophy. Every building exhibited Pelli’s design concept of fusing data with emotions and contextual flexibility, producing iconic structures that enhanced their environments.


Throughout the course of a 60-year career, Pelli designed over 110 outstanding buildings. His design philosophy, which placed a strong emphasis on the relationship between buildings and the cities they inhabited, has since become a global standard for architects. Pelli’s legacy is proof of his commitment to designing structures that improve the lives of those who occupy them and strengthen the urban fabric. 

In the words of Cesar Pelli himself, “Architects must design each building over time to contribute to the total quality of the metropolis, a sense of harmony in the built environment.” 


Baberwal, Subhay. “Architect César Pelli: Philosophy and Ideology.” RTF | Rethinking the Future, May 2023. 

Bernstein, Fred A., and Paul Goldberger. “Cesar Pelli, Designer of Iconic Buildings Around the World, Dies at 92.” The New York Times, 21 July 2019.

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