Japan’s Toyo Ito wins Pritzker Architecture Prize

March 17, 2013

Japanese architect Toyo Ito, whose buildings have been praised for their fluid beauty and balance between the physical and virtual worlds, has won the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the award’s jury announced Sunday.

The 71-year-old architect joins such masters as Frank Gehry, I.M. Pei, Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano and Wang Su in receiving the honor that’s been called architecture’s Nobel Prize.

Ito, the sixth Japanese architect to receive the prize, was recognized for the libraries, houses, theaters, offices and other buildings he has designed in Japan and beyond.

“Toyo Ito’s architecture has improved the quality of both public and private spaces,” said Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who served on the Pritzker jury. “It has inspired many architects, critics and members of the general public alike. Along with all others involved with the Pritzker Prize, I am very pleased that he has received the award,” Breyer said in a statement.

Some of Ito’s notable creations include the transparent Sendai Mediatheque library in Miyagi, Japan (which withstood the 2011 earthquake); the curvaceous Municipal Funeral Hall in Gifu, Japan; the arch-filled Tama Art University Library in suburban Tokyo; the spiral White O residence in Marbella, Chile; his stadium for the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, Taiwan; and the angular 2002 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London.

“His buildings are complex, yet his high degree of synthesis means that his works attain a level of calmness, which ultimately allows the inhabitants to freely develop their life and activities in them,” said Chilean architect and Pritzker jury member Alejandro Aravena.

Ito began his career at Kiyonori Kikutake Architects & Associates after he graduated from Tokyo University in 1965. He founded his own architecture firm in 1971.

Ito will receive a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion May 29 at the formal Pritzker ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Sponsored by the Hyatt Foundation, the Pritzker Prize was established in 1979 by the late entrepreneur Jay A. Pritzker and his wife, Cindy, to honor “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 humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.”

— Associated Press

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