The Japanese Toyo Ito, Pritzker Price of Architecture 2013

Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, 2013 Photo by Yoshiaki Tsutsui.
2013/03/18
The Japanese Architect Toyo Ito has been awarded the Pritzker Price of Architecture 2013.
This award is as respected among the architects as it is the Nobel Prize in other disciplines.

Calling him a “creator of timeless buildings,” the Pritzker Jury cites Ito for “infusing his designs with a spiritual dimension and for the poetics that transcend all his works.”

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, The Lord Palumbo, said on the laureate“Throughout his career, Toyo Ito has been able to produce a body of work that combines conceptual innovation with superbly executed buildings. Creating outstanding architecture for more than 40 years, he has successfully undertaken libraries, houses, parks, theaters, shops, office buildings and pavilions, each time seeking to extend the possibilities of architecture. A professional of unique talent, he is dedicated to the process
of discovery that comes from seeing the opportunities that lie in each commission and each site.”

Ito is the sixth Japanese architect to become a Pritzker Laureate . Being the late Kenzo Tange in 1987,the other four were Fumihiko Maki in 1993, Tadao Ando in 1995, and the team of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa in 2010.

Fluid architecture
The laureate has always said that he strives for architecture that is fluid and not confined by what he considers to be the limitations of modern architecture.

On the image.- Sendai Mediatheque, 1995—2000, Sendai-shi, Miyagi, Japan Photo by Nacasa & Partners Inc.

In the Sendai Mediatheque, 2000, he achieved this fluidity by structural tubes, which allowed new interior spatial qualities.
In the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, the horizontal and vertical network of spaces creates opportunities for communication and connection.

Seeking freedom from the rigidity of a grid, Ito is interested in relationships: between rooms, exterior and interior, and building and surroundings. Toyo Ito‘s work has drawn on inspiration from the principlesof nature, as evidenced by the unity achieved between organic-like structures, surface and skin.

Different needs lead to different answers
Ito has developed modern works using standard industrial materials and components for his lightweight structures, such as tubes, expanded meshes, perforated aluminum sheeting and permeable fabrics.His later expressive works have been formed using mostly reinforced concrete.

On the image.- Meiso no Mori Municipal Funeral Hall, 2004—2006, Kakamigahara-shi, Gifu, Japan.

In a truly extraordinary way, he is able to keep structure, space, setting, technology, and place on equal footing. Although the resulting buildings seem effortlessly in balance, they are the result of his deep knowledge of his craft and his ability to deal with all the aspects of architecture simultaneously.

On the image.- Meiso no Mori Municipal Funeral Hall, 2004—2006, Kakamigahara-shi, Gifu, Japan.

Despite of the complexity of his works, their high degree of synthesis lead to a level of calmness inside his buildings that allows the inhabitants tfreely develop their activities within them.

Tower of Winds, 1986, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa, Japan. Photo by Tomio Ohashi.
Ito has managed to develop a wide range of functional programs, as well as a spectrum of architectural languages all woven using his personal architectural syntax, which combines structural and technical ingenuity with formal clarity.

Always innovative
Innovation is apparent to the first sight in the temporary pavilion created in Bruges in 2002 and the TOD’S building in Tokyo in 2004 where the building skin serves as structure and wall. But it is not so apparent , but still there is his use of traditional materials in nonconventional ways.

The use of concrete to create flowing organic forms as he did in the commercial development of VivoCity in Singapore is a good example.

In addition, his buildings are full of new technological inventions, as it happens in the Dome in Odate or the Tower of Winds at Yokohama.
Such level of innovation is an outcome of the kind os creative process Toyo Ito has depurated along the years, consisting of carefully and objectively analyzing each situation before offering any solution.

From Urbot to barely Toyo Ito
Toyo Ito began working in Kiyonori Kikutake & Associates architects firm after he graduated from Tokyo University’s Department of Architecture in 1965.
In 1971, he established his own studio in Tokyo. He named it Urban Robot (Urbot), but eight years later, In 1979, he changed the name into Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects.

On the image.- TOD’S Omotesando Building, 2002—2004, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Photo by Nacasa & Partners Inc.

At his 71 years Toyo Ito has received a range of international awards including in 2010, the 22nd Praemium Imperiale in Honor of Prince Takamatsu; and in 2006, The Royal Institute of British Architects’ Royal Gold Medal; and in 2002, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement for 8th Venice Biennale International Exhibition.

Ito will be presented the “Nobel” of the architects in May
The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture’s highest
honor will be held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts on 29th May 2013.

On the image.- TOD’S Omotesando Building, 2002—2004, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Photo by Nacasa & Partners Inc.

This marks the first time the ceremony has been held in Boston, and the location has particular significance because it was designed by another Pritzker Laureate, Ieoh Ming Pei, who
received the prize in 1983.

Established in 1979 by the late Jay A. Pritzker and his wife, Cindy, the purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, is to honor annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to mankind and the built environment through the art of architecture. The laureates receive a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion.

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