Architect Riken Yamamoto, whose works include distinctive-looking buildings in Japan, South Korea and China as well as at the Zurich airport, has won the U.S. Pritzker prize, dubbed the Nobel prize of architecture, the organizer said Tuesday.

"By carefully blurring the boundary between public and private, Yamamoto contributes positively beyond the brief to enable community," said Alejandro Aravena, chair of the prize jury, in an announcement.

Riken Yamamoto. (Kyodo)

Yamamoto, 78, is a prolific architect whose output has included a research building at Future University Hakodate in Japan's Hokkaido, a section of the Shinonome Canal Court Codan apartment complex in Tokyo, and Yokosuka Museum of Art in Kanagawa Prefecture, among others.

"I can't's a very fantastic time for me," Yamamoto, a resident of Yokohama, said in a video statement on the Pritzker prize website.

Yamamoto became the ninth Japanese to receive the prize. Past laureates from the country include Kenzo Tange, Tadao Ando, Toyoo Ito and Arata Isozaki.

In South Korea, Yamamoto was involved in the creation of Pangyo Housing, a complex of low-rise apartments in Seongnam, near Seoul, and another apartment complex in the country's capital.

Hyatt Foundation, the award's organizer, praised the design of Pangyo Housing for reducing isolation for single residents, saying, "A communal deck across the second floor encourages interaction, featuring spaces for gathering, playgrounds, gardens and bridges that connect one housing block to another."

The foundation also highlighted Yamamoto's Hiroshima Nishi Fire Station, one of his landmark achievements in Japan. The glass-walled design allows visitors and passers-by to witness the daily activities and training of firefighters, fostering familiarity with the civil servants who protect them, it said.

Yamamoto also designed a set of buildings at Zurich airport known as The Circle, as well as Jian Wai Soho, a complex of housing and commercial facilities in China.

Nagoya Zokei University. (Riken Yamamoto & Field Shop/Photo courtesy of the Pritzker Architecture Prize)(Kyodo)

He served as professor at Kogakuin University in Tokyo and a graduate school of Yokohama National University as well as president of Nagoya Zokei University.

A private award ceremony will be held in Chicago in May and Yamamoto will deliver a speech in the city on May 16, according to the foundation.

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