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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa

August 24th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, partners in the architectural firm, SANAA, were chosen as the 2010 Laureates of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture’s highest honor was held on May 17 on historic Ellis Island in New York. At that time, a $100,000 grant and bronze medallions was bestowed on the two architects.

In announcing the jury’s choice, Thomas J. Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, elaborated, “This marks the third time in the history of the prize that two architects have been named in the same year. The first was in 1988 when Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil and the late Gordon Bunshaft were so honored, and the second was in 2001, when Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, partners in a Swiss firm, were selected.”

He continued, “Japanese architects have been chosen three times in the thirty year history of the Pritzker Architecture Prize—the first was the late Kenzo Tange in 1987, then in 1993, Fumihiko Maki was selected, and in 1995, Tadao Ando was the honoree.”

The purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize is to honor annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, The Lord Palumbo quoted from the jury citation to focus on this year’s selection: “For architecture that is simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever; for the creation of buildings that successfully interact with their contexts and the activities they contain, creating a sense of fullness and experiential richness; for a singular architectural language that springs from a collaborative process that is both unique and inspirational; for their notable completed buildings and the promise of new projects together, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are the recipients of the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.”

While most of their work is in Japan, Sejima and Nishizawa have designed projects in Germany, England, Spain, France, the Netherlands and the United States, under their combined name SANAA. The first SANAA project in the United States began construction in 2004 in Ohio—a Glass Pavilion for the Toledo Museum of Art. Completed in 2006, it houses the museum’s vast collection of glass artworks, reflecting the city’s history when it was a major center of glass production.

While that building was still under construction, the New Museum of New York City broke ground in 2005 at 235 Bowery. Completed in 2007, the building has been described as “a sculptural stack of rectilinear boxes dynamically shifted off-axis around a central steel core.”

The jury citation specifically mentions these projects as well as two projects in Japan: “the O-Museum in Nagano and the 21st Century Muscum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa.” The Ogasawara Museum was one of their first projects together.

The De Kunstline Theater and Cultural Center in Almere, the Netherlands, and a more recent Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland are also major projects of SANAA. Other works in Japan include the Naoshima Ferry Terminal and the Christian Dior Building in Tokyo.

In Essen, Germany, in 2006, the Zollverein School of Management and Design was inaugurated in a new building designed by SANAA on an historical coal mining site. The building is described as an oversized cube (approximately 114 feet in each dimension) with an unusual arrangement of openings and windows of four different sizes.

The Serpentine Pavilion in London, their first built project in the United Kingdom, was in place for three months on the gallery’s lawn—the ninth such commission in the Serpentine’s series of pavilions. In France, a branch of the Louvre Museum in Lens will comprise some 300,000 square feet of construction.

In Valencia, Spain, SANAA provided a unique expansion solution to IVAM (Valencian Institute of Modern Art) in which their existing building housing eight galleries will be completely enclosed by a translucent skin covering an entire block, and thus creating new indoor/outdoor public spaces between the building and the skin. The proposed skin is a light weight perforated metal that allows daylight, wind and rain to pass through. Construction has not yet begun.

Both architects have extensive lists of completed works and projects as individual architects.

Upon learning that she was being honored, Kazuyo Sejima had this reaction: “I am thrilled to receive such an honor. I would like to thank the Pritzker foundation, the jury members, the clients who have worked with us, and all of our collaborators. I have been exploring how I can make architecture that feels open, which I feel is important for a new generation of architecture. With this prize I will continue trying to make wonderful architecture.”

And a similar reaction from Ryue Nishizawa: “I receive this wonderful prize with great humility. I am very honored and at the same time very surprised. I receive and understand this prize as encouragement for our efforts. Every time I finish a building I revel in possibilities and at the same time reflect on what has happened. Each project becomes my motivation for the next new project. In the same way this wonderful prize has given me a dynamic energy that I have never felt before. I thank you very much.”


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.

Related posts:

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