March 19, 2013
The 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered architecture’s highest accolade is to go to Toyo Ito, a 71 year old Japanese architect whose work includes the Sendai Mediatheque library in Sendai City, Japan, which withstood the 2011 earthquake, Tokyo’s Tama Art University Library, and London’s 2002 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Ito, whose architectural practice is based in Tokyo, said of the award: “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.”
He added: “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.”
Pritzker Prize jury chairman, Lord Palumbo, quoted from the jury citation that focuses on the reasons for this year’s choice: “Throughout his career, Toyo Ito has been able to produce a body of work that combines conceptual innovation with superbly executed buildings.
“Creating outstanding architecture for more than 40 years, he has successfully undertaken libraries, houses, parks, theatres, shops, office buildings and pavilions, each time seeking to extend the possibilities of architecture. A professional of unique talent, he is dedicated to the process of discovery that comes from seeing the opportunities that lie in each commission and each site.”
Toyo Ito began working in the firm of Kiyonori Kikutake & Associates after he graduated from Tokyo University’s Department of Architecture in 1965. In 1971, he founded his own studio in Tokyo, and named it Urban Robot (Urbot). In 1979, he changed the name to Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects.
He has received numerous international awards, including in 2010, the 22nd Praemium Imperiale in Honor of Prince Takamatsu; and in 2006, The Royal Institute of British Architects’ Royal Gold Medal; and in 2002, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement for 8th Venice Biennale International Exhibition. Calling him a “creator of timeless buildings,” the Pritzker Jury cites Ito for “infusing his designs with a spiritual dimension and for the poetics that transcend all his works.”