In 1995, Kazuyo Sejima (born in 1956) and Ryue Nishizawa (born in 1966) founded SANAA, the Tokyo architecture studio that has designed innovative buildings in Japan and around the world. Examples of their, groundbreaking work include, among others, the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland; the Toledo Museum of Art's Glass Pavilion in Toledo, Ohio; the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, NY: the Serpentine Pavilion in London; the Christian Dior Building in Omotesando in Tokyo; and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa. The latter won the Golden Lion in 2004 for the most significant work in the Ninth International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

Born in Japan’s prefecture of Ibaraki (northeast of Tokyo), Kazuyo Sejima received a degree in architecture at the Japan Women's University. Upon completion of her studies, she began working in the office of architect Toyo Ito. In 1987, she opened her own studio in Tokyo, and in 1992, she was named the Japan Institute of Architects’ Young Architect of the Year in Japan. Kazuyo Sejima has taught at Princeton University, the Polytechnique de Lausanne, Tama Art University, and Keio University.

Ryue Nishizawa hails from the Kanagawa prefecture (just south of Tokyo), where he graduated from Yokohama National University with a master’s degree in architecture in 1990. He established the office Ryue Nishizawa in 1997, and he holds a professorship at Yokohama National University.

Together, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa were awarded the Arnold Brunner Memorial Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2002, a design prize from the Architectural Institute of Japan in 2006, and the Kunstpreis Berlin of 2007 from the Berlin Academy of Arts. In addition, they have presented their work throughout the United States and Europe in exhibitions and as visiting lecturers at numerous prestigious universities.