Kenzo Tange, one of the world's most honored architects, today became the 1987 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. He is the ninth recipient of what has come to be known as the most prestigious award in the profession. A native of Japan, Tange is the fifth recipient from outside the United States.
Although the major portion of Tange's work has been in Japan, including the world renowned stadiums for the 1964 Olympics held in Tokyo, he has designed and built in China, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Nigeria, Italy, Yugoslavia and the United States.
Jay A. Pritzker, president of The Hyatt Foundation, which established the prize in 1979 to reward a creative endeavor not honored by the Nobel Prizes, presented a $100,000 tax-free grant to Tange today at The Museum of Modern Art. A formal award ceremony will be held at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas on May 2.
Pritzker praised Tange for his "wide-ranging creative activities, not only as an architect and urban planner, but as a teacher and writer, researcher and historian. His theories on the informational society, and his search for a design expression for that society, have produced not only a great body of built work, but also have stimulated the quest for an architecture that can again elevate the human spirit. Mr. Tange has been quoted as saying, 'architecture must have something that appeals to the human heart.' The jury has unanimously agreed that this life's work has done that ... and more."
In revealing the 1987 Laureate, noted author and journalist Brendan Gill, who is secretary to the Pritzker jury, said of Tange, "He has shaped, as architect, teacher, and philosopher of architecture, half a century of Japanese building design and urban planning."
Gill continued, "In his youth, he was influenced by Le Corbusier, and later, while teaching at MIT, by his close friend Eero Saarinen. Among his students and colleagues in Japan, have been Fumihiko Maki and Arata Isozaki."
In making the award to Tange, the jury's citation read in part, as follows: "Given talent, energy, and a sufficiently long career, one may pass from being a breaker of new ground to being revered as a classic. This has been the happy fate of Kenzo Tange, who in his seventh decade, is celebrated as an architect of international stature. His stadiums for the Olympic Games held in Tokyo in 1964 have been described as among the most beautiful buildings of the twentieth century."
Tange, who is 73, became interested in architecture while studying in another field. He entered the Architecture Department of Tokyo University in 1935, and began winning competitions and awards in his own country shortly after graduating. He received his doctorate in 1959, followed by numerous honorary doctorates around the world.
In 1973, when he received the French Architecture Academy's gold medal, he was the only person in the world to have received as well, the gold medals from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the American Institute of Architects.