Sunday, March 17, 2013

Architectural Healing: Toyo Ito Wins 2013 Pritzker Prize

Toyo Ito - photograph, Yoshiaki Tsutsui (click images for larger view)
71-year-old Japanese architect Toyo Ito was named Sunday as the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Pritzker  Architecture Prize.  This year's jury was again chaired by former Farnsworth House owner Lord Peter Palumbo, as well Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, U.S. Supreme Court Justicer Stephen Breyer, architect and MIT professor Yung Ho Change, 2002 Pritzker winner Glenn Murcutt, Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa (who will be lecturing at IIT April 2nd) and Pritzker Architecture Prize Executive Director Martha Thorne.  The award will formally be presented at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on May 29th.
Museum of Architecture, Omishima, photograph: Daici Ano
The Jury citation concludes  . . . 
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.
Ito began his career in the offices of Kiyonori Kikutake & Associates, one of the founders of the  Metabolist movement, which sought to rebuild post-war Japan by drawing on the principles of biological growth  to create an extensible cellular system of design and construction.  Ito founded his own firm in 1971, beginning with residences like the Aluminum House in the Kanagawa Prefecture.
Sendai Mediatheque, photograph: Nacasa and Partners Inc.
This led to more complex and ambitious projects such as the 2001 Sendai Mediatheque, supported on a series of open steel tubes.
Sendai Mediatheque, photograph: Tomio Ohashi
 On the exterior, each floor was its own unique finish.  Read Ada Louis Huxtable's eloquent take on the building here.

The next year, Ito collaborated with engineer/architect Cecil Balmond to create the target="_blank" 2002 Serpentine Gallery in London's Kensington Park as a structured made from an algorithm of multiple interlocking iterations of a rotated cube.
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, 2002,
Ito's entry in the luxury brand bling building was a store for TOD's in Tokyo, whose intricate concrete cross-bracing was said to emulate the form of the elm trees along the street. 
TOD's Omotoesando Building, photograph: Nacasa and Partners Inc.
In July of 2011, in the wake of the devastating Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Ito, in a  postscript in the Rem Koolhaas/Hans Ulrich Obrist book  Project Japan: Metabolists Talks wrote  . .  .
Since around the time I set up my own office in 1971, urban proposals such as those made by the Metabolists are rarely seen.  We are still in the mode of introversion and abstraction.  I think now is a good moment for us architects to break away from this mode and regain a viable relationship with nature.
Ito led the "Home for All" project to create a communal space for people who had lost their homes during the tsunami.   The concept won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the  2012 Venice Biennale. 

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