Arata Isozaki, renowned architect of iconic buildings throughout the world, dies at 91

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Arata Isozaki, the 2019 Pritzker Prize-winning architect best known for his designs that blended Eastern and Western cultures, has died at 91.

Isozaki died due to natural causes in his Okinawa, Japan, home on Wednesday, Bijutsu Techo reported. His partner, Misa Shin, confirmed the news. According to the architect’s office, Arata Isozaki & Associates, a private funeral is to be held for close relatives.

Isozaki was one of the first Japanese architects to achieve global recognition. The "post-modern giant" completed over 100 buildings throughout Asia, Europe, North America, Australia and the Middle East.

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Isozaki’s most iconic works include Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan’s Art Tower Mito, the Team Disney Building, the Walt Disney Company headquarters in Florida and Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi arena for the 1992 Summer Games.

Born in Oita in 1931, the World War II atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had a profound impact on then-14-year-old Isozaki.

After witnessing the horrific destruction, Isozaki’s interest in architecture blossomed, pushing him to later pursue his studies at the University of Tokyo.

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Isozaki reflected on these moments when he won the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize, explaining: “[My] first experience of architecture was the void of architecture, and I began to consider how people might rebuild their homes and cities.”

After graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1954, Isozaki began working as an apprentice to 1987 Pritzker laureate Kenzo Tange. As Japan continued to rebuild post-war, Isozaki would also continue to set up his personal office, dubbed “Atelier,” in 1963.

“In order to find the most appropriate way to solve these problems, I could not dwell upon a single style,” the renowned architect expressed. “Change became constant. Paradoxically, this came to be my own style.”

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Through Isozaki’s unique blend of styles, a dialogue was created between cultures that were once believed to be opposites. Emerging as an international leader, Isozaki’s works would contribute to a variety of fields, including philosophy, design, music, films, plays, visual arts and architecture.

In 1979, Isozaki was appointed to the Pritzker Prize Jury before eventually becoming the eighth Japanese architect to win the prize in 2019. The architect was also awarded the L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1997, the RIBA Gold Medal for architecture in 1986 and more.

Throughout his career, Isozaki taught as a visiting professor at Columbia, Harvard, Yale and New York University.