The Pritzker Architecture Prize usually goes to just one architect. But this year, two Japanese partners are being honored — a woman, Kazuyo Sejima, and a man, Ryue Nishizawa — who lead the firm SANAA.
The Pritzker jury praised their buildings for being “deceptively simple.”
Simplicity greets visitors to the Glass Pavilion for the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio. Set among trees, its layers of ultraclear glass walls fluidly curve between thin white ceiling and floor. The building almost disappears into a pool of reflections and transparencies.
Sejima says SANAA strives to make “architecture like a park.”
“In Japan we have a park, which means very open space, and there, different aged people share the space,” says Sejima. “And sometimes a big group. At the same time, beside them, I can go spend my very quiet time alone.”
Sejima and her partner designed such a space between glass walls at the back of the Toledo pavilion — one that creates a sense of quiet emptiness: Behind the visitor, the art; in front, trees and sky — all enhanced by reflections in the glass of other visitors passing by. SANAA offers similar choreography in its housing projects in densely packed Tokyo, says Japanese architect Hitoshi Abe, who chairs the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA.
Listen to the story and see pictures of the Toledo Museum of Art.