“Different circumstances lead to different answers.” Toyo Ito’s dedication to the process of exploration and discovery, having emerged from his ability to pinpoint opportunities that surface in each commission and site, may be one of the chief reasons why the Korean-born Japanese architect won this year’s Pritzker Prize. (Ito has been a runner-up for the Pritzker for the last 10 years.) “He has gradually developed and perfected a personal architectural syntax, which combines structural and technical ingenuity with formal clarity,” said the jury, noting Ito’s process of “carefully and objectively analyzing each situation before proposing a solution.”
The work draws “on inspiration for the principles of nature, as evidenced by the unity achieved between organic-like structures, surface and skin.” The opportunism is manifested through the capability of synthesis. Ito is an optimist whose timeless buildings are embedded with civic sensibilities, functional programs and cater to the human senses. The projects are clear in their execution with revealed structures and refined details through precise craftsmanship. Moreover, the programmatic disposition of spaces work hand-in-hand with the urban setting of the site as well as the building’s overall vocaction. The result is an elegant, ambitious and unexpected alchemy of high-technology and natural atmospheres.
Through minimalist tactics, Ito sought to use simple materials and appropriate them with high-tech functions, therein blurring the lines between traditional, contemporary and postmodern architectures. The Sendai Mediatheque (2000) is the quintessential example: using tubes, plates and skin, Ito created a transparent cube, integrating libraries, art galleries, multimedia facilities, cinema, studios, etc. and structured it to accommodate new and emerging technologies.