Pritzker Winning Architect Arata Isozaki Dies at 91
The world lost one of the great artists of our time yesterday, when Pritzker-winning Japanese architect Arata Isozaki passed away of old age. He was 91.
Isozaki will be best remembered for ushering in the era of post-modernism in architecture, and for helping to transcend boundaries by blending the the culture and history of the East and the West in his designs.
Born in 1921 in Oita, Isozaki witnessed the aftermath of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima. This led him to develop his theory that buildings were transitory and thus should be pleasing to the senses.
“The future city lies in ruins,” he once wrote.
For two decades Isozaki worked exclusively in his home country of Japan. This changed in 1980, when he was commissioned to design the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
The eventual success of that commission, would lead Isozaki to pivot to international projects. It was in these settings that Isozaki would hone his signature ability to blend traditional Japanese culture with Western architecture.
Work at Walt Disney World
Fans of Walt Disney World will recognize Isozaki from his work on the Team Disney building, which opened in 1991.
Another example of Isozaki’s brilliant Post Modern work, the colorful structure was anchored by a 12-foot conical sundial.
In keeping with Isozaki’s desire for his designs to have meaning, the Team Disney building was meant to spark a contemplation of time and space.
The building was given a 900-foot length, which approximated the distance that sound travels in one second. Furthermore, the interior of its sundial was designed to track the sun’s movement across the sky.
Following its opening, the Team Disney building would be recognized with local, state, and national awards.
Aside from his work with Disney, Isozaki’s best known works include Palau Saint Jordi stadium in Barcelona built for the 1992 Olympic Games, and Qatar National Convention Center in Doha.
In addition to his architectural mastery, Isozaki was also known as an author, lecturer, and critic. In 2019, he was finally awarded a the Pritzker award, the highest award for architecture. At the ceremony, United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, then the chairman of the Pritzker jury stated “Isozaki is a pioneer in understanding that the need for architecture is both global and local — that those two forces are part of a single challenge.”
Isozaki is survived by his longtime companion Misa Shin, and his son Hiroshi.