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Pritzker Prize-winning architect Arata Isozaki dies aged 91


Written by Stephy Chung, CNN

Contributors Emi Jozuka, CNN

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Arata Isozaki has died aged 91, according to his longtime partner Misa Shin. He passed away of natural causes on Wednesday at his home in Naha, in Japan’s Okinawa prefecture. In a statement from his office, Arata Isozaki and Associates, Shin said that the private funeral will be held in the presence of loved ones.

As one of the first Japanese architects to work globally, his prolific career spanned more than six decades, with over 100 completed buildings constructed in Asia, Europe, North America, Middle East and Australia. Mito’s bold spiral art tower in Japan, the Sidra tree-inspired Qatar National Convention Center in Doha and the Palau Saint Jordi arena, created for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, ​​are one of his most famous works.

Interior of the Qatar National Convention Center in Doha, Qatar, taken on April 12, 2015.

Interior of the Qatar National Convention Center in Doha, Qatar, taken on April 12, 2015. Credit: Enes Kanli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Isozaki was born in Oita, Japan in 1931. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II had a profound impact on the teenager at the time — witnessing the devastation of the cities. Such has fueled his interest in architecture, and he will pursue a degree in architecture. field at the University of Tokyo in 1954.

“(My) first experience with architecture was the emptiness of architecture,” he said when he won the Pritzker Prize, “and I began to look at how people could rebuild their homes and their city.”

He would apprentice to his former professor, famed architect and 1987 Pritzker Prize winner Kenzo Tange, before establishing his own office, Arata Isozaki & Associates, in 1963, during Japan is actively rebuilding after the war.

“To find the most appropriate way to deal with these problems, I cannot focus on a single style,” he is quoted as saying above. Pritzker Prize Website, on his approach to architecture in Japan during the early years of his career. “Change becomes constant. Paradoxically, this has become my own style.”
A photo of the Palau Sant Jordi, an indoor sports arena designed by the architect, taken on April 3, 1990.

A photo of the Palau Sant Jordi, an indoor sports arena designed by the architect, taken on April 3, 1990. Credit: Tetsuya Akiyama/AP

In 2019, Isozaki became the seventh Asian architect to win the industry’s Prizker, or “Nobel,” award in a ten-year period. The jury singled out the architect’s first international commission, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, as particularly notable.

“Although controversial and geographically challenging, the red sandstone building of India was tackled by Isozaki’s eloquent perception of scale through the assemblage of volumes, while also using golden ratio and yin and yang throughout, evoking the complementary nature of Western and Eastern relationships,” reads the award statement.

Among many awards, he was also awarded the prestigious RIBA gold medal in architecture in 1986 and the Leone d’Oro at the 1996 Venice Architecture Biennale.

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