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Meet Toyo Ito

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Japanese architect Toyo Ito has been awarded the 2013 Pritzker architecture prize, one of the field’s most prestigious awards. He is the 37th recipient of the Pritzker and the 6th Japanese, following Kenzo Tange in 1987, Fumihiko Maki in 1993, Tadao Ando in 1995, and Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa in 2010. The prize, which was created by the late Jay A. Pritzker and his wife Cindy in 1979 to honor the world’s most innovative architects, includes a $100,000 award and a medallion.Recent recipients of the award include Wang Shu, Eduardo Souto de Moura and SANAA.

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The Pritzker jury deemed the 71 years old architect a “creator of timeless buildings,” and recognizes his conceptually creative designs. The formal award ceremony will take place at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts on 29th of May.

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Toyo Ito has previously been awarded the RIBA Gold Medal in 2006 and the Praemium Imperiale by the Japanese Art Association in 2010, and his Japanese Pavilion was awarded best Pavilion at last year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.

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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, which was named Urban Robot (Urbot). In 1979, he changed the name to Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects.

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His works have been marked by the synergy of organic-like structures and technology on one side, and poetics and minimalist design on the other. Some examples of Ito’s works are: the TOD’S Omotesando Building in Tokyo, Sendai Mediatheque, Tama Art University Library in Tokyo and Za-Koenji Public Theatre in Tokyo.

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Toyo Ito other creations include: the curvaceous Municipal Funeral Hall in Gifu, Japan, the spiral White O residence in Marbella, Chile and the angular 2002 Serpentine Gallery pavilion in London.

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One of his 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.

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Toyo Ito stated the following in reaction to winning the prize: “Architecture is bound by various social constraints. I have been designing architecture bearing in mind that it would be possible to realize more comfortable spaces if we are freed from all the restrictions even for a little bit. However, when one building is completed, I become painfully aware of my own inadequacy, and it turns into energy to challenge the next project. Probably this process must keep repeating itself in the future. Therefore, I will never fix my architectural style and never be satisfied with my works.”

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