I was at the San Francisco Main Library in the Civic Center recently to pick up a book and saw a photo of the library under construction (left photo). The photo on the right shows the same space today with a glass domed oculus lighting the space. The library was completed in 1996 by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, an architectural firm founded by I. M. Pei -- the renowned Chinese-American modernist architect and 1983 Pritzker Prize winner.
Unfortunately I. M. Pei had already left this firm when the library was designed. So San Francisco missed out on an opportunity for a major I. M Pei building. I like to think about what he might have done in San Francisco - something as memorable as the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris? At age 94, it will probably never happen. Sometimes time and place miss each other. Unfortunate.