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  1. The Louvre for me is a wonderful experience. Because it continues; it didn’t get cut off. It was actually a continuous involvement all the way, and a lot of people have come and gone, come and gone; but I’m still here.
  2. I think the artistic side of architecture was natural to me. My mother was an artist and a poet.
  3. One thing I learn — I’ve been in practice now for half a century or more, and the most important ingredient for an architect to do a good building is to have a good client. I think a client counts for as much as fifty per cent.
  4. Modern architecture needed to be part of an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, process.
  5. It is good to learn from the ancients. I’m a bit of an ancient myself. They had a lot of time to think about architecture and landscape.
  6. A lasting architecture has to have roots.
  7. Even a beautiful piece of work can be overshadowed, destroyed, by something else.
  8. I’d been going to the Louvre since 1951. I thought I knew Paris and the French, but I didn’t really. You know how easy it is to make friends when you are traveling. People are curious about you, you are curious about them. But you never really make friends that way. After the Louvre, I discovered that I have friends now because I have enemies.
  9. I have a great love for nature. That must have started somewhere down back home, I think, because my family own one of the better known gardens in Soochow, so I played there, and I lived there, and so I must have absorbed something there. So I continue to have a great interest in nature.
  10. The Pyramids are perfect, but you can’t put the Pyramids in the middle of Manhattan. In the desert, the combination of light and form makes it perfect.
  11. In northern architecture — the cathedrals of Europe and all the little churches — the details, the carving of stone, become necessary because the light is not there to help you very much. You have to enrich surfaces. The desert reduces form to its simplest nature. There is no need for gargoyles or flying buttresses in the desert.
  12. The essence of architecture is form and space, and light is the essential element to the key to architectural design, probably more important than anything. Technology and materials are secondary.
  13. Contemporary architects tend to impose modernity on something. There is a certain concern for history, but it’s not very deep.
  14. We had a lot of difficulty in getting the French to accept the pyramid. They thought we were trying to import a piece of Egypt until I pointed out that their obelisk was also from Egypt and the Place des Pyramides is around the corner. Then they accepted it. The pyramid at the Louvre, though, is just the tip.
  15. Architecture must not do violence to space or its neighbors.
  16. I liked the America of Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton — it was all a dream, of course, but a very alluring dream for a young man from Canton.
  17. A city, far from being a cluster of buildings, is actually a sequence of spaces enclosed and defined by buildings.
  18. The first decent building I did with my own practice was a chapel in Taiwan.
  19. To me, form doesn’t always follow function. Form has a life of its own, and at times, it may be the motivating force in design. When you’re dealing with form as a sculptor, you feel that you are quite free in attempting to mould and shape things you want to do, but in architecture, it’s much more difficult because it has to have a function.
  20. I arrived in the U.S.A. in 1935, to San Francisco. I got the boat from China, and I didn’t even speak English. I could read a little, perhaps write a little, but that was all. It was a 17-day journey, and I learnt to speak English from the stewards.

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