Skip to main content

Top architect named: Tour Toyo Ito's unusual buildings

By Frances Cha, CNN
March 20, 2013 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
Toyo Ito calls the critically acclaimed Sendai Mediatheque -- an art gallery and library -- his favorite work. Completed in 2000, the building employs structural tubes in place of traditional walls. Built to withstand earthquakes, the library is significant for surviving the devastating quake of March 2011. Toyo Ito calls the critically acclaimed Sendai Mediatheque -- an art gallery and library -- his favorite work. Completed in 2000, the building employs structural tubes in place of traditional walls. Built to withstand earthquakes, the library is significant for surviving the devastating quake of March 2011.
HIDE CAPTION
Sendai Mediatheque, Miyagi, Japan
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, London
Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre, Nagano, Japan
Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre (exterior)
Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, Taiwan
Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, Taiwan
Tama Art University Library, Tokyo
Za-Koenji Public Theatre, Tokyo
Main Stadium for the 2009 World Games, Taiwan
Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture, Ehime, Japan
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Seoul-born Japanese architect Toyo Ito wins highest prize for architecture
  • Ito oversaw reconstruction projects in Japan following the 2011 tsunami
  • His firm is currently working on projects in Taiwan, Singapore and Japan

(CNN) -- Seoul-born, 71-year-old Japanese architect Toyo Ito is this year's recipient of the industry's most coveted prize.

On Monday, the architect was announced the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, joining past Pritzker Laureates that include Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas.

"As I did not expect it, I felt really grateful and honored to be awarded the prize," Ito told CNN.

In addition to his abstract, beautiful buildings, the Tokyo-based architect is also known for his extensive work on communal centers as part of the reconstruction in Japan following the 2011 tsunami.

Toyo Ito, 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate
Toyo Ito, 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate

Ito, whose family ran a miso (bean paste) factory following his father's early death when Ito was 12, has said he wasn't interested in architecture as a youth. He began taking an interest while attending the University of Tokyo.

Throughout his career, Ito's designs have been unusual, vivid and minimalistic -- from the aluminum house he designed for his sister to the Sendai Mediatheque in Miyagi, Japan, which he describes as his professional highlight.

20 of the world's most iconic skyscrapers

The Pritzker committee jury raved about his lifework of defying standard distinctions. It will officially bestow its award at a ceremony in Boston on May 29.

Together with the 40 employees of his namesake firm, Toyo Ito & Associates, the architect is currently working on projects in Taiwan, Singapore and Japan.

"I travel 50 to 60 times per year for work," says Ito. "I love any place where I work."

At Princeton in 2009, he lectured on the development of the grid system in architecture, pointing out that while the system allows for rapid construction, "it also made the world's cities homogenous" and that "it made the people living and working there homogenous, too."

His design aesthetic is "modifying the grid slightly" so buildings can have closer relationships to their environment.

"Not fixing my style, I keep extending the possibilities of architecture," he told CNN. "In other words, I would like to unbridle architecture from various restrictions and give it more freedom."

The photo gallery above illustrates how Ito is changing and influencing landscapes of cities around the world.

Where to see the buildings (numbered per the gallery above)

1. Sendai Mediatheque, 2-1 Kasugamachi, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan; +82 22 713 3171; open daily 9 a.m.-10 p.m., closed every fourth Thursday; www.smt.jp

3. Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre, Fukashi, Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, Japan; +81 263 33 3800; www.mpac.jp

7. Tama Art University Library (Hachioji campus), 2-1723 Yarimizu,Hachioji,Tokyo; +81 42 676 8611; open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; www.tamabi.ac.jp

8. Za-Koenji Public Theatre, 2-1-2 Koenji-Kita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo; +81 3 3223 7300; za-koenji.jp

9. Main Stadium for 2009 World Games, No. 100, Shìyùn Blvd, Zuoying District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan;+886 7 582 9000; open daily 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; www.nssac.gov.tw

10. Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture, 2418 Urado, Omishima-machi, Imabari, Ehime, Japan; +81 897 74 7220; open Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; www.tima-imabari.jp

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0207 GMT (1007 HKT)
Where to pay homage to the cutest local celebrities you'll ever stalk.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
For air travelers who like to gripe about being cramped in economy, here comes another warning that they've never had it so good.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Cream cakes from the Ruszwurm bakery in Budapest, Hungary
Proving they're what's really important, the world's best pastry shops have survived survived sieges, revolutions and World War II.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Lois Pryce ignored naysayers and traveled 3,000 miles via motorcycle to discover the real Iran.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0320 GMT (1120 HKT)
Built at a cost of $442.2 million, Universal Studios Japan hopes its new Potter attraction will bring in $55 billion over 10 years.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
A scene in Marrakech
The gateway to Morocco's Atlas Mountains is becoming a photographer's paradise -- but capturing it on camera isn't easy.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 2136 GMT (0536 HKT)
Cathay Pacific was pronounced the world's best airliner of the year at the industry's leading awards ceremony in Farnborough on Tuesday.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 2044 GMT (0444 HKT)
Britain has stolen a march in the space race with plans for the world's first spaceport outside the U.S.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
In the hunt for the world's best amusement park, the people have spoken -- and it seems the people like mixing with creatures who eat a lot of fish.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0611 GMT (1411 HKT)
An Hellenic Seaplanes aircraft
Seaplane network set to open up far-flung destinations to affordable jet-setting tours.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
A man who took a dangerous selfie during the running of the bulls in Pamplona, with the half-ton beasts right behind him, is still on the run -- but this time from the police.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0207 GMT (1007 HKT)
Its cramped rooms and retro lobby are dated, but its charm and devotion to customers are worth preserving.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 0553 GMT (1353 HKT)
A young girl sits on a bench decorated with an image of Paddington Bear.
As part of a scheme to encourage reading, 50 benches designed in the style of popular novels or kids' stories have been scattered around London.
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
To all the locals who have been hoarding the following beaches, please forgive us.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
Jason Hullinger, a computer security architect in Los Angeles, went to Joshua Tree National Park in December to catch the Geminid meteor shower.
CNN iReporters from across the globe share their incredible images of the skies above us.
ADVERTISEMENT