While researching my biography of Katharine Graham (Power,Privilege and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story), I interviewed I.M. Pei in his New York office. I wanted to talk to him about the commission in the mid-1960s to design the Post’s downtown headquarters at 1150 15th St. NW.
Anybody who has seen the building — opened in late 1972 and which one Newsweek editor described to me as “a box”— would quickly recognize that Pei lost that commission. A gentleman of the first order who had been a friend of Kay’s late husband, Phil, Pei was discreet, certainly exhibiting no bitterness.
I did manage, through interviews with people on the editorial and business sides of the Post, to get the back-story of how it happened that Pei was paid $2 million for his time and trouble before architects from Detroit were retained to design the building.