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Local architect who helped I.M Pei build Rock Hall says he was one of the greatest minds of all time

Pei passed away on Thursday at the age of 102

Legendary architect I.M. Pei, who designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died on Thursday at the age of 102.

Bob Madison, who was the first black architect in Ohio, calls him one of the greatest of all time.

“I'm just glad I knew him,” Madison said.

Pei is a renowned creative genius, whose career spanned more than 70 years. He has work on display across the country and around the world, including the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston and his renovation of the famous Louvre Museum in France.

Madison says the two were friends. He says they met for the first time at Harvard when Madison was an architecture student. He says he got to know Pei even better when the two and other American architects visited China more than 40 years ago.

"He was always gracious,” Madison said. “He was always a gentlemen."

The trip to China led to a partnership in Cleveland, working together to design one of Pei's most famous projects: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

"He said to me when they asked me to design the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I didn’t know anything about Rock and Roll music. What is that? So he decided to go to some Rock and Roll concerts."

Madison says Pei going to the concerts inspired him to design a building similar to Rock and Roll music, which Madison describes as full of surprises.

"If you look at the [Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] building….you'll coming out here a forum that sits on a cylinder into a ground into the water. That's Rock and Roll explosive."

Pei visited Cleveland in January of 1988 to help unveil the design for what turned out to be the Rock Hall. We captured the moment on WKYC in the video below:

He says Pei had a creative mind that can't be duplicated. Madison says his legacy will forever stand the test of time.

“I.M Pei has a skill, the talent that one would not think about,” Madison said.

The Rock Hall and its CEO Greg Harris put out the following statement honoring Pei via Twitter: