Japanese Architect Fumihiko Maki Is Named 1993 Laureate of the Pritzker Archtecture Prize

Citing his work as "intelligent and artistic in concept and expression, meticulously achieved," The Hyatt Foundation jury has named Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki the sixteenth Laureate of his profession's highest honor, the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Maki, whose modernist architectural achievements in Japan have been raised throughout the world as highly successful fusions of the cultures of east and west, is the second Japanese architect to win the Pritzker Prize, and was a student of the first, Kenzo Tange, who received the honor in 1987.

Jay A. Pritzker, president of The Hyatt Foundation, which established the award in 1979, will present Maki with a $100,000 grant and medal at a ceremony to be held at Prague Castle in the recently formed Czech Republic on June 10.

In making the announcement from The Hyatt Foundation's office in Los Angeles, Pritzker lauded the choice of the jury, saying, "Maki's roots are in Japan, but his studies and early work in the United States have given him an unique understanding of both eastern and western cultures evident in his designs. He never loses touch with human scale, whatever the size of the project."

Bill Lacy, secretary to the international panel of jurors that elects the Laureate each year, quoted from the formal citation from the jury: "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. He uses detail to give his structures rhythm and scale."

The prize is presented to him, Lacy continued, "For building works that are not only expressions of his time, but that are destined to survive mere fashion."

Lacy elaborated, "A group of young Japanese architects, bound by the past and firmly committed to respect it, but determined to look to the future emerged in the late 1940s. Their architecture was both experimental and modernist with some European overtones that gradually gave way to a more original and uniquely Japanese style. Their work was featured in the international architectural press and soon they were the emulated, not the emulators, with their inventive and artistic new shapes and pioneering use of new materials. Fumihiko Maki was one of the leaders of this new wave that would rebuild Japan."

Maki who was born on September 6, 1928 took his undergraduate degree in architecture at the University of Tokyo before going on for Masters degrees at both Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

His first commission was in the United States at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri-Steinberg Hall, an arts center. It remains his only built work in the U.S. until the completion of the Yerba Buena Gardens Visual Arts Center currently under construction in San Francisco, scheduled to open this fall.


At almost the same time, his first commission in Japan was also under construction, the Toyoda Memorial Hall Auditorium at Nagoya University. In 1969, a project of major significance, the Hillside Terrace Apartment Complex was begun in Tokyo. This project, which would be accomplished in six phases over the next 25 years, has become a landmark of not only Maki's architectural genius, but also a kind of history of modernism.

The National Museum of Modern Art has been called the most nearly classical of Maki's works. The exterior of the museum is an opaque gray, but in the atrium, wall surfaces of rough and polished marbles provide a reflection of light patterns coming from above. The lobby is an extraordinary example of the power of an empty space. The Iwasaki Museum for a private collection of art was completed in 1979. This modern acropolis is built atop a hill in southern Kyushu. YKK Guest House, built to provide lodging for visitors to one of the world's largest fastener manufacturers, is a perfect example of what was cited by Bill Lacy, writing in Space Design, as an example of a great architect's understanding that "stone and steel, glass and concrete are not what architecture is made of-they are only the means by which light is allowed to create form and space."

Maki considers the Fujisawa Gymnasium project of 1980-84 a major turning point in his career, leading him into increasingly complex forms. To quote Maki, from an interview published in the book, Fumihiko Maki, An Aesthetic of Fragmentation, "...many people say it looks like a helmet, or a ... frog, or a beetle, or a spaceship I just wanted to make a very dynamic building. I wanted to make rich interior spaces. Then to cover them, I needed certain components ... the building has become complex enough to yield all kinds of images according to the people who look at it." On much larger scales were the Tokyo Gymnasium and the Nippon Convention Center. The former, nearly half a million square feet in area consists of three main buildings-the principal arena, a secondary arena, and a swimming pool. Maki describes it, "The overall composition is an attempt to create a new urban landscape by juxtaposing strongly geometric and symbolically charged pieces. The result is a constellation of clearly defined geometric forms that make up an indeterminate cloudlike whole."

The convention center, or Makuhari Messe, is built on land reclaimed from Tokyo Bay. The total area of over 1.5 million square feet is divided into seven identical units. Each unit of space is linked to its neighbor by a long spinal axis that will be directly accessible from all adjacent areas.

The building has three main purposes-exhibition space, an amphitheatre that will seat 5000, and a convention/banqueting center. Maki's first realized project in Europe will be Isar Buro Park, an office park district near the new Munich International Airport in Germany. The project is currently under construction. The distinguished jury that selected Maki as the 1993 Laureate consists of J. Carter Brown, director emeritus of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (who is chairman of the jury and founding member); and alphabetically, Giovanni Agnelli, chairman of Fiat from Torino, Italy; Charles Correa, architect of Bombay, India; Frank Gehry, architect and 1989 Pritzker Laureate of Los Angeles; Ada Louise Huxtable, author and architectural critic of New York; architect Ricardo Legorreta of Mexico City; Toshio Nakamura, editor-in-chief of A+U architectural publications of a Tokyo, Japan; and Lord Rothschild, chairman of the board of trustees of the National Gallery of Art in London, England. 


Read Fumihiko Maki's Essay