Pei legacy includes Great Falls building

Famed architect I.M. Pei died on Thursday at the age of 102.

The Chinese-American designed notable buildings worldwide, including the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris, the east building at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston; the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland; and more.

But his works also include a Great Falls site.

In the 1960s, the Federal Aviation Administration contracted Pei in response to a 1962 Congressional mandate to begin design of a standardized air traffic control tower.

GTF tower plans

“The directive of project was to ‘design the most contemporary, state-of-the-art control tower which could be repeated across the country as a permanent symbol of air security,'” according to FAA documents.



Pei was charged with designing a five sided air traffic control tower prototype that would be modified to the needs at particular airports.

Pei developed a series of 50 control towers for the FAA, but only 16 were built.

The tower at Great Falls International Airport was one of the 16 towers built.


I.M. Pei’s stamp and signature on plans for the air control tower at Great Falls International Airport. Photo courtesy John Faulkner, airport director.

On Friday, Airport Director John Faulkner located the original drawings bearing Pei’s stamp.

Among the other towers Pei designed are:

  • Elmendorf Air Force Base
  • Sacramento International Airport
  • O’Hare Airfield
  • Indianapolis International Airport
  • Andrews Air Force Base
  • Lambert-St. Louis International Airport
  • Westchester County Airport
  • Columbia Metropolitan Airport
  • El Paso International Airport
  • Bush Intercontinental Airport
  • Huntsville International Airport
  • Tampa International Airport