César Pelli was born in Tucumán, Argentina, where he got a Degree in Architecture at the Institute for Architecture and Urbanism of the National University of Tucumán. He began his career at the offices of Eero Saarinen, where he was in charge of several projects such as the building of the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport in New York and Morse and Stiles Schools at Yale University.
Later, he was Director of Design at DMJM office in Los Angeles and, later, he became partner at Gruen Associates in charge of the design department, also in Los Angeles. During those years he designed several very important buildings, including the San Bernardino City Hall in San Bernardino, California; the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles; and the United States Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
He moved from Los Angeles to New Haven, Connecticut, to take office as the Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University. Shortly after, he founded Cesar Pelli & Associates in New Haven. He resigned his post as Dean several years ago, but continues to lecture in the School of Architecture at Yale. He defines and personally directs the design the firm's projects. Recently, in recognition of the increased role of the firm’s principals, the firm was renamed Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects.
César Pelli has avoided formalistic preconceptions in his designs, because he believes that aesthetic qualities of a building should grow from the specific characteristics of each project, such as its location and its basic use. In search of the most appropriate response to each project, his designs have covered a wide range of solutions and materials.
César Pelli has written extensively on issues of architecture. In 1999 he wrote the book "Observaciones para jóvenes Arquitectos" (Observations for Young Architects) published by Monacelli Press in English and by Ediciones Infinito in Spanish. His work has been widely exhibited and published, including nine books on his work and several complete numbers of professional magazines, devoted to their buildings and theories. He has received 14 Doctor Honoris Causa degrees, and more than 200 awards for his designs; he is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters of the National Academy of Design (U.S.A.), the International Academy of Architecture and the French Academy of Architecture.
In 1995, Cesar Pelli received the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects in recognition of his achievements and contributions throughout his career. In 2004, Cesar Pelli received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the design of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.