Fumihiko Maki, chosen as the 1993 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, is the second architect from Japan to be so honored—the first being Kenzo Tange in 1987.

Maki, who was born in Tokyo on September 6, 1928, studied with Tange at the University of Tokyo where he received his Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1952. Maki then spent the next year at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan where Eliel Saarinen’s influence on the curriculum and as designer of the school’s buildings was significant.

He then took his Master of Architecture degree at the Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard University. His first apprenticeships were with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, New York and Sert Jackson and Associates in Cambridge.

In 1956, he took a post as assistant professor of architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also received his first design commission—for the Steinberg Hall (an art center) on that campus, which remains his only completed work in the United States. Following his four years there, he joined the faculty at Harvard’s GSD from 1962 to 1965, and has been a frequent guest lecturer at numerous other schools.

In 1965, he returned to Japan to establish his own firm, Maki and Associates in Tokyo. In the 28 years since, his staff has grown to approximately 35 people, with an equal number having passed through to begin their own practices. “I was never attracted to the idea of a large organization. On the other hand, a small organization may tend to develop a very narrow viewpoint. My ideal is a group structure that allows people with diverse imaginations, that often contradict and are in conflict with one another, to work in a condition of flux, but that also permits the making of decisions that are as calculated and objectively weighed as necessary for the creation of something as concrete as architecture.”

While he was preparing to open his own office, Maki worked at, or observed, numerous offices in Japan and other countries. One of the conclusions he drew was that an office, and by extension, design itself, is a matter of individual character, and that an office is itself a work of art. “Architectural design is perhaps the strangest activity undertaken by the many professions, and a group that engages in architectural design is likewise a curious organization. Architecture is a highly ambiguous field,” Maki continued.

Most of Maki’s work has been accomplished in Japan, although he is currently working on a number of commissions both in Europe and the United States. When his office building complex for Isar Büro Park near Munich is completed in 1994, it will be his first realized European project.

Later this year, a second realized work in the United States will be completed—the Yerba Buena Gardens Visual Arts Center, part of a large scale redevelopment in downtown San Francisco involving a number of prominent architects (Mario Botta, James Polshek, Mitchell/Giurgola, I.M. Pei). The Visual Arts Center by Maki is currently under construction, literally on top of the Moscone Convention Center.

Maki is the first to acknowledge that as a student, he came under the influence of post-Bauhaus internationalism. That plus ten years of study and work in the United States afforded him the ability to step back and take a view from a distance of both Japan and America, as well as other parts of the world. It is to this experience that he attributes what people have called an aesthetic sense that is intelligible to a world audience.

Maki calls himself a modernist, unequivocally. His structures tend to be made of metal, concrete and glass, the classic materials of the modernist age, but the canonical palette has also been extended to include such materials as mosaic tile, anodized aluminum and stainless steel. Along with a great many other Japanese architects, he has maintained a consistent interest in new technology as part of his design language, quite often taking advantage of modular systems in construction. He makes Fumihiko Maki, 1993 Laureate (continued) 2 a conscious effort to capture the spirit of a place and an era, producing with each building or complex of buildings, a work that makes full use of all that is presently at his command. As far as post-modernism is concerned, Maki has been quoted as saying, “In the West it might be all right, but in Japan, postmodernism using historic motifs would simply evaporate.” And with it, so evaporates the modern/postmodern debate as an issue of style. “The problem of modernity is not creating forms,” says Maki, “but rather, creating an overall image of life, not necessarily dominated by the concept of modernity.” For him, this overall image is in essence a question of space for human activity rather than a vision of a constructed facade. Maki often speaks of the idea of creating “unforgettable scenes”—in effect, stage settings to accommodate and complement all kinds of human interaction—as the inspiration and starting point for his designs.

As a founding member of the Metabolists in 1960, his name became associated with the group’s large-scale urban designs and plans. However, his buildings are not “megastructures,” a term he invented. As Bill Lacy, in his book, 100 Contemporary Architects states, “His gigantic Nippon Convention Center in Tokyo shows how a huge building can possess qualities missing in the vast megastructures of the modernist years. The center...is modeled on the prototypical Japanese community nestled among hills and was intended to set the tone and direction for future urban growth in the area. Its vast volume and distinctive silhouette becomes a man-made mountain range in an otherwise flat, waterfront topography. The facility is organized along a central spine nearly one-third of a mile long and its vast exhibition hall is covered with a curved roof ... elements as background forms for a diversity of human-scaled components.”

Most critics agree that even with his most enormous buildings, Maki’s works are at ground level, scaled appropriately to provide human warmth and excitement. In Contemporary Architects, Ching-Yu Chang wrote, “While Maki has rightly gained considerable notoriety as a theoretician, he has clearly not allowed his thinking to become clouded with esoteric ideas. He applies his belief in module, standardized parts and adaptability for change in a very utilitarian, pragmatic way. It is apparent that the thrust of his design attention is not the glorification of these concepts, but the successful employment of them to create inclusive highly contextual architecture that is in strict accord with human, psychological preferences.”

Maki wrote as early as 1960, and it is still relevant today, “There is no more critically concerned observer of our rapidly changing society than the urban designer. Charged with giving form—with perceiving and contributing order—to agglomerates of buildings, highways, and green spaces in which men have increasingly come to work and live, the urban designer stands between technology and human need and seeks to make the first a servant, for the second must be paramount in a civilized world.”

In Maki’s Osaka Prefectural Sports Center, he unifies many separate spaces with a central spine, much like a street with different levels—in this case allowing access to the gymnasium at one end and to a restaurant, observation deck at the other. Here the diner can look back over a roof garden to an entrance plaza, in effect, looking through a layering of transparent planes and spaces—a concept that relates to many of Maki’s buildings.

In his Hillside Terrace Apartments, a complex of buildings developed over a period of 25 years (and thus nearly spanning the firm’s entire history), a strategy of transparent layering creates a series of shared scenes or landscapes within an urban context. Wandering through the complex, one encounters intimate courtyards hidden away amid greenery, linked by meandering passages and discovered only by accident of a sideways glance. By articulating several layers of threshold spaces between the busy street edge and the densely wooded interior of the block, Maki is able to impart a sense of depth to spaces that physically are quite compact.

The most recent decade has brought an even greater sense of lightness to Maki’s work. The Fujisawa Fumihiko Maki, 1993 Laureate (continued) 3 Gymnasium is particularly illustrative of this freer sensibility—its sharp, stainless steel clad roof seems virtually to float above the main arena, separated from the spectator stands by a ribbon of light and supported only at four points. Some critics have likened its complex metallic form to a spaceship or a beetle, while others have deemed it reminiscent of a medieval samurai helmet.

New York architect Emilio Ambasz wrote, “There is in the Fujisawa project a serene majesty, an elegant dignity which forces us to admire the extraordinary generosity of a reticent artist who loves his material more than himself; who has reduced the building to its essential core so that when touched, it will not be the instrument we admire but rather the sound which emanates for it. In Fujisawa, Maki calls forth the gods of Japanese architecture.”

Bill Lacy, describing Maki’s YKK Guest House, wrote of great architects understanding that their designs begin with the premise that stone, glass, steel and concrete are only the means by which light is allowed to create form and space. “YKK Guest House is a striking example of the manipulation of light to artistic purposes by a master architect,” he explained, and continued that the YKK Guest House is the three dimensional representation of the maxim attributed to Michelangelo: “There should be nothing superfluous, yet, nothing wanting in sculpture.” Lacy concluded, “It is a building that grows from the inside out and whose exterior composition is so carefully balanced that its appearance works equally well in all seasons—day or night. The overall impression is one of appropriateness—to program, to site and to the special cultural aesthetics that is distinctively Japanese.”

Because he is convinced that public places—both interior and exterior—are the best catalysts for generating human interaction, he places great importance on the spatial design of the public realm. Nearly all of his projects have interior and exterior spaces that interact visually—for example the Tepia Science Pavilion (1989) whose first floor exhibition spaces and second floor cafe enjoy a view out to a broad courtyard garden.

One of Maki’s most significant projects is the Hillside Terrace complex which he began to design in 1967 and has continued to work on right up until the last year when the final phase was completed.

Nothing like it had been seen in Japan before. It was to be primarily residential with shops. With Maki’s overall plan, it represents “a graceful and appropriate architectural interpretation and channeling of existing trends,” said David B. Stewart, writing in Space Design.

Hillside Terrace is an example of small-scale town planning as it was practiced nearly a century ago. The fact that it has been designed and built over 25 years makes it unique in that it was being accomplished while architectural fashions were changing, as well as the architect’s own views. Nearly every aspect of the original master plan, from the layout of open space to the typology of apartment buildings and distribution of commercial spaces, went through radical revisions over the course of twenty-five years, developing as a series of improvisations on a theme. Nevertheless, the intimate scale of courtyards, the open character of public space enhanced by axial views and transparent layering, and the subtle adaptation of existing topography were basic to the first designs and have followed through the design of the last phase.

According to Hiroyuki Suzuki, Architecture Professor at the University of Tokyo, “Following the orthodox tradition by which the city has taken shape in Tokyo, Maki applied the modernist architectural methodology to a process of construction that lasted longer than any other project of this kind, elevating it into an original technique of townscape building. Here we can see for ourselves what the seemingly self-contradictory concept of memory of modernity means.”

As a student of two cultures whose fusion of the two influences has been greatly acclaimed, Maki recently wrote of his native Tokyo with nostalgia and hope. “Tokyo is the place where I was born, raised, and educated. It was also in Tokyo that I became familiar with some of the few works of Fumihiko Maki, 1993 Laureate (continued) 4 modern architecture that existed in the 1930s in Japan—the white houses of such modern pioneers as Kameki Tsuchiura (who was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright when the latter was in Japan designing the old Imperial Hotel), Sutemi Horiguchi, Antonin Raymond. Tokyo has changed greatly in the half century since then.” He continued that his office will have left an architectural imprint in at least 30 places in Tokyo and environs—ten houses or apartments, two embassies, four universities, two schools, three cultural facilities, one gymnasium, three office buildings and three commercial buildings.

He likens his Tokyo to Manhattan, where dynamic and static elements are in continual conflict, “and being in its midst is like standing on the beach as waves ceaselessly advance and recede.” He confides, “It is in this context that architecture must be built. Architecture can no longer provide the old order of traditional townscapes but it may have an even greater influence today as the nexus between human beings and a constantly changing environment.”

In 1970, Maki wrote: “The ultimate aim of architecture is to create spaces to serve society, and in order to achieve this, the architect must understand human activities from the standpoints of history, ecology, and changing trends. He must also know the relationship existing between human activities and architectural spaces and processes by means of which these relationships develop.”

Japanese Architect Fumihiko Maki Is Named 1993 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture 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 respecting 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 amphitheater 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. 

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. 

Jury Members

J. Carter Brown (Chairman)
Giovanni Agnelli
Charles Correa
Ada Louise Huxtable
Ricardo Legorreta
Toshio Nakamura
Lord Rothschild
Bill Lacy (Secretary to the Jury)

Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Castle is a sprawling complex situated atop a large hill on the left bank of the Vltava River. Dating back to the nineth century, several castles have occupied the site of the current Prague Castle, which today is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic, and serves as the historical and political center of both the city and state.

A Romanesque palace was erected there in the twelfth century that was rebuilt in the Gothic style in the fourteenth century, during the rule of Charles IV. The Royal palace was re-built to the current shape under the ruling Jagellos dynasty at the end of the fifteenth century. At that time, renowned architect, Benedikt Rejt, added the now-famous Vladislav Hall, also in the Gothic style. The castle was enlarged in the sixteenth century. The Spanish Hall, in a new part of the castle, was added during the reign of Rudolf II. Prague Castle took on a classical appearance in the eighteenth century, which it maintains today, during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, under the direction of architect Nicolò Pacassi. After World War I, the gardens and the interior of the castle were renovated by Slovene architect Jože Plečnik. From 1920 until 1934, he completed numerous projects at the castle, including the renovation of numerous gardens and courtyards, the design and installation of monuments and sculptures, and the design of numerous new interior spaces, including the Plečnik Hall completed in 1930, which features three levels of abstracted Doric colonnades.

Speakers at the official presentation ceremony of the 1993 Pritzker Architecture Prize were: Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic; Milan Udhe, President, Chamber of Deputies, Parliament of the Czech Republic; Adrian A Basora, US Ambassador ; Bill Lacy, Secretary to the Jury; J. Carter Brown, Chairman of the Jury; and Jay A. Pritzker, President The Hyatt Foundation.


Prague Castle