Building Momentum: Sejima and Nishizawa Win 2010 Pritzker

"We want to make architecture that people like to use," said Kazuyo Sejima, who with partner Ryue Nishizawa won the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize yesterday.  "The jury somehow appreciated our way of making architecture."  The Japanese architects aim towards using everyday materials to build dreamlike structures in which people can roam freely in groups or meditate individually.  In the often befuddling world of modern architecture, Sejima and Nishizawa never lose sight of the human element in their buildings, including the sense of humor and excitement that can make entering a museum or office space a thrill rather than a chore.

Beginning in 1979, the Pritzker has honored some of the greatest names in architecture, including I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, Robert Venturi, and Zaha Hadid.  Jay A. Pritzker founded the prize with his wife, Cindy, out of their love of architecture. Native Chicagoans, the Pritzkers lived among the works of giants of architectural history such as Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe and wanted to promote the next big thing in the medium.  Along with a medallion, each year’s winner receives a $100,000 grant.


Sejima and Nishizawa’s firm Sanaa Ltd., which they founded in 1995, has a long history of creating innovative structures for modern use.  The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology's Rolex Learning Center (pictured), which only opened in February 2010, looks like a 4-acre slice of Swiss cheese from the sky.  (Get it?  Swiss cheese for a Swiss building? A cheesy joke if there ever was one.)  The single-story concrete and glass structure rolls like a wave over the landscape as “holes” in the top allow natural light to illuminate the large open spaces of the interior.  The New Museum in New York City looks like a children’s ill-balanced house of blocks.  White metal blocks of different sizes sit uncertainly (but not, really) on a see-through glass base at ground level on a less-than-genteel street in the lower east side of New York.  Even in the most unlikely of locations, Sejima and Nishizawa shoot for the “wow” factor and score. It’s hard to think of whimsy in metal and glass, but these Japanese architects manage to pull it off.

I find it interesting that there is nothing stylistically “Japanese” in these Japanese architects’ designs.  They’ve gone international, as so many other modern artists have, in a good way, breaking past the idea of cultural boundaries and building momentum towards an art that unites us in our common humanity rather than separates us in alignment with the accidents of where and when we were born.  The Pritzker Prize adds to that momentum by rewarding artists that build structures of humanity and hope in a better future.  If the Pritzker Prize does nothing else, it reminds us to look up and around and truly live in the spaces around us, rather than simply occupy them.  Wake up and smell the architecture.

[Image:  Sejima and Nishizawa’s Rolex Learning Center.]

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

content.jwplatform.com
Videos
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

Scientists find a horrible new way cocaine can damage your brain

Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.

Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
  • Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
  • Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Keep reading Show less