Fumihiko Maki of Japan is an architect whose work is intelligent and artistic in concept and expression, meticulously achieved.
He is a modernist who has fused the best of both eastern and western cultures to create an architecture representing the age-old qualities of his native country while at the same time juxtaposing contemporary construction methods and materials.
His first exposure to modern architecture was in 1930s Tokyo where a few pioneering architects departed from traditional and European styles. Following his graduation from the University of Tokyo, he came to the United States for further study at Cranbrook Academy of Art and at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design under Jose Luis Sert. He later taught at Washington University, where as a young professor, he designed his first built work. These early experiences helped build the foundation for his own unique style that would reflect his cosmopolitan view of the world.
Early in his career, he became a founding member of an avant garde group of talented young Japanese architects calling themselves Metabolists, a word derived from the Greek with various meanings—alteration, variation, revolution—changeability and flexibility being key elements of their view. One aim was never to design in isolation from the city structure as a whole.
Maki has expressed his constant concern for the "parts" and the "whole”—describing one of his goals as achieving a dynamic equilibrium that includes sometimes conflicting masses, volumes, and materials.
He uses light in a masterful way making it as tangible a part of every design as are the walls and roof. In each building, he searches for a way to make transparency, translucency and opacity exist in total harmony. To echo his own words, "Detailing is what gives architecture its rhythm and scale."
There is amazing diversity in his work—from the awesome Nippon Convention Center near Tokyo with its man-made mountain range of stainless steel roofs to his earlier and smaller YKK Guest House or a planned orphan village in Poland.
The dimensions of his work measure a career that has greatly enriched architecture. As a prolific author as well as architect and teacher, Maki contributes significantly to the understanding of the profession.
Maki has described creation in architecture as "discovery, not invention... a cultural act in response to the common imagination or vision of the time." Further, he believes, "it is the responsibility of the architect to leave behind buildings that are assets to culture."
For building works that are not only expressions of his time, but that are destined to survive mere fashion, the 1993 Pritzker Architecture Prize is presented to Fumihiko Maki.