Toyo Ito in Japan
by C.B. Liddell
C.B. Liddell for ArchitectureWeek: A very simple question to start with. Maybe the answer will be complicated. How do you feel about being awarded the 2010 Praemium Imperiale?
Toyo Ito: Of course, I'm very pleased to receive that prize, but at the same time I want to be as young as possible, both as a person and as an architect as well. Getting the prize is like stepping up to the next stage, but for my next challenge I want to stay as young as possible.
Liddell: So, what you're saying is that the prize makes you feel a little older?
Ito: Yes. Now, compared to when I was young, it is difficult to say whatever I want to say to the architectural society and to other people. Because of all the prizes, it's a little bit difficult to speak up about whatever I want to say. Nevertheless, I'm very glad to receive the prize.
Liddell: Looking at the previous winners of the Praemium Imperiale architecture prize, who do you most admire and why?
Ito: That's actually a very difficult question to answer, because if I look at the rest of the prize winners, I find rivals and mentors and other people, so it is very hard to choose whom I most admire. But from those honored, there are only two people who have already passed away. One is James Stirling and the other is Kenzo Tange. Those two especially were very impressive architects for me. Kenzo Tange was also a professor when I was a Tokyo University student.
Liddell: When you think of Kenzo Tange, what comes to mind? What kind of image do you have in your memory?
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Toyo Ito designed the Sendai Mediatheque, a 21,682-square-meter (233,380-square-foot) library in Sendai, Japan.
Photo: Nacasa & Partners/ Courtesy Toyo Ito & Associates
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Toyo Ito is the 2010 laureate of the Praemium Imperiale architecture prize.
Photo: C.B. Liddell
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