Japanese architect Toyo Ito has been named the 37th recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Prize. The 71-year-old's works, described by the jury as "timeless buildings" that express "optimism, lightness and joy" have made waves throughout the world for their distinct pairings of organic form and technological innovation. Ito's Sendai Mediatheque, which survived the devastating magnitude -9.0 earthquake in 2011, is now a striking example of seismically-resistant architecture, while his dragon-shaped stadium in Taiwan was notable not only for it's unusual form, but also for being entirely solar-powered. Over the course of his career Ito has, with his gorgeous buildings "push[ed] the boundaries of architecture," unafraid to let "go what he has accomplished before," according to juror Yung Ho Chang.
The Pritzker Prize jury, which included Lord Peter Palumbo, an internationally known architectural patron of London, and renowned architects Glenn Murcutt, Yung Ho Chang, Juhani Pallasmaa and Alejandro Aravena, commented: “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 working for Kiyonori Kikutake, one of the founders of the Japanese Metabolist movement. He went on to create his own architectural office in 1971 and designed private houses like the U House in Tokyo and White O in Chile, both dominated by flowing forms and a particular sensibility for the private lives of urban dwellers.
Toyo Ito’s works have been marked by the synergy of organic-like structures and technology on one side, and poetics and minimalist design on the other. His cutting-edge public library in Sendai designed in 2001 is a transparent cube, composed of tubes and platforms. The structural flexibility of the tree-like tubular proved highly efficient during the 2011 earthquake that triggered the tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster. The Mediatheque suffered minor damage and was soon reopened. Since then, Toyo Ito has been working on several earthquake-resistant projects throughout Japan, including a program to develop community centers for the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the northeast of the country.
One of Ito’s most recent projects, the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, which is currently under construction, was especially praised by the Pritzker jury. Drawing inspiration from nature, Ito designed the 620,000 square-foot opera house as a horizontal and vertical network of spaces that builds intricate relationships between the interior and exterior spaces of the building and its surroundings.
The Pritzker ceremony will be held on May 29th in Boston, at the John F. Kennedy library designed by another Pritzker Prize winner I. M. Pei (1983). Each year the laureate receives a $100,000 prize and is presented with a bronze medallion recognizing his or her contributions to humanity through architecture.