Japanese architect Arata Isozaki has won the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize, often considered the Nobel prize of architecture, the award's sponsor organization said Tuesday.
Isozaki, regarded as a visionary who helped foster an architectural dialogue between East and West, was born in Oita, southwestern Japan in 1931. He worked under Kenzo Tange before establishing his own firm in 1963.
In a recorded message, Isozaki said the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 had a profound impact on him as a child and helped him become an architect.
"My first encounter in architecture was ground zero, no architecture, no city," he said. "I became interested in how architecture and a city can rise up from ground zero."
"When it comes to a peacetime, you cannot be adventurous, but are quite mild and tame. However, there is a time when anything is all right as long as it is interesting. Just hit it big and never mind a mistake," he added.
His best-known works include the Oita Prefectural Library in Oita, the Museum of Modern Art, Gunma in Takasaki, north of Tokyo, and the Tsukuba Center Building in Tsukuba, northeast of Tokyo.
He is also known for such international works as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Sports Hall for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, and the Himalayas Center, a multifunctional cultural complex in Shanghai.
In its citation, the Pritzker jury said Isozaki's work "is a testimony to his ability to understand the context in all its complexity and to create a remarkable, well-crafted and inspiring building that is successful from city scale to the interior spaces."
"Possessing a profound knowledge of architectural history and theory, and embracing the avant-garde, he never merely replicated the status quo but challenged it," it said.
"And in his search for meaningful architecture, he created buildings of great quality that to this day defy categorizations, reflect his constant evolution, and are always fresh in their approach," the jury added.
Isozaki is the eighth Japanese architect to win the Pritzker prize, which is sponsored by the Hyatt Foundation. The first seven include Tange in 1987, Tadao Ando in 1995, and Shigeru Ban in 2014.
He will be awarded the prize in France in May.
(Okanoyama Museum of Art Nishiwaki)
(Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art)
(Nishi-Nippon City Bank head office)
(Art Plaza in Oita)