Japan’s Toyo Ito, born in 1941 in colonial Korea, has been chosen as the recipient of 2013’s Pritzker Architecture Prize, sponsored by the Hyatt Foundation. The Prizker Prize is given annually to an architect with a distinguished body of work. It is the profession’s highest honour and consists of a bronze medallion along with US$100,000.
The award is presented in recognition of “a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.” The formal award ceremony will be held on May 29 in Boston.
Ito’s creations were praised by the committee for their ‘timeless’ nature and the seamless way in which he balances the physical and virtual world. Since his graduation from Tokyo University in 1965, Ito has worked steadily as an architect, creating conceptual buildings which combine innovation with practicality.
Perhaps most important to Ito, however, are the projects in his home country that have been made more pressing by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.
Mr. Ito began working in the firm of Kiyonori Kikutake & Associates after graduating from Tokyo University’s Department of Architecture in 1965. By 1971, he had started his own studio in Tokyo, and named it Urban Robot (Urbot), changing the name to Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects in 1979.
He has designed buildings all over the world, including the temporary 2002 Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde Park, but the majority of his most famous works remain in Asia, such as the Sendai Mediatheque and Za-Koenji Public Theatre in Japan, as well as Taiwan’s Taichung Metropolitan Opera House and the Main Stadium for the 2009 World Games. You can also visit the Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture, built in 2011 and located in Ehime, Japan.
Toyo Ito is a creator of timeless buildings, who at the same time boldly charts new paths.
Perhaps most important to Ito, however, are the projects in his home country that have been made more pressing by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. The disaster spurred Ito and a group of other Japanese architects to develop the concept of “Home-for-All” communal space for survivors.
In awarding him this prize, the Pritzker Jury’s citation states, “Toyo Ito is a creator of timeless buildings, who at the same time boldly charts new paths. His architecture projects an air of optimism, lightness and joy, and is infused with both a sense of uniqueness and universality. For these reasons and for his synthesis of structure, space and form that creates inviting places, for his sensitivity to landscape, for infusing his designs with a spiritual dimension and for the poetics that transcend all his works, Toyo Ito is awarded the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize.”
Five previous Pritzker Laureates were also Japanese: Kenzo Tage, Fumihiko Maki, Tadao Ando, and Kazuyo Sejima/Ryue Nishizawa.
By Tim Holm