Isozaki, Arata 1931–

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Isozaki, Arata 1931–


Born July 23, 1931, in Oita City, Japan; son of Soji (a commerce official and poet) and Tetsu Isozaki; married Aiko Miyawaki, 1974; children: two sons. Education: University of Tokyo, graduated 1954. Hobbies and other interests: Making sushi.


Office—Arata Isozaki and Associates, 6-17, Akasaka 9-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107, Japan.


Apprenticed with Kenzo Tange, 1954-63; Arata Isozaki and Associates (architects), Tokyo, Japan, founding architect, 1963—. Also works as sculptor. Visiting professor at various institutions, including Columbia University, University of Hawaii, and Rhode Island School of Design. Juror of architectural competitions. Exhibitions: Artwork represented in various shows, including the group show "A New Wave of Japanese Architecture," 1978; the sculpture "Angel Cage & Gravity Room," exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in the mid-1970s; and the solo exhibition, "Architecture of Quotation and Metaphor," Chicago, IL.


American Academy of Arts and Letters (honorary member), Royal Academy of Arts.


Decorated chevalier, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres; annual prizes from Architectural Institute of Japan, 1967, 1975; artist's newcomer prize, Japanese Ministry of Culture, 1969; Mainichi Art Award, 1983; gold medal, Royal Institute of British Architects, 1986; Asahi Award, Asahi Shinbun, 1988; Golden Lion, Venice Biennale, 1996, as commissioner of Japanese Pavilion; gran cruz, Orden del Mérito Civil of Spain, 1997.



The Prints of Arata Isozaki, 1977-1984, Gendai Hanga Center (Tokyo, Japan), 1983.

(With Fumihiko Maki) New Public Architecture: Recent Projects, Japan Society (New York, NY), c. 1985.

Katsura Villa: Space and Form, photographs by Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1987.

Architectural Apocalypse by Ryuji Miyamoto, Heibonsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1988.

A New Brooklyn Museum: The Master Plan Competition, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1988.

Image Game, 1990.

Arata Isozaki: Architecture, 1960-1990, text by Hajime Yatsuka and David B. Stewart, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1991, revised edition with text by Stewart published as Arata Isozaki: Four Decades of Architecture, Universe Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.

Arata Isozaki, Works 30: Architectural Models, Prints, Drawings, photographs by Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Rikuyo-sha (Tokyo, Japan), 1992.

The Island Nation Aesthetic, Academy Editions (London, England), 1996.

Unbuilt: Anti-Architectural History/Unbuilt: Hankenchiku Shi, TOTO Publishing (Tokyo, Japan), 2001.

Japan-ness in Architecture, translated by Sabu Kohso, edited by David B. Stewart, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

(With Tadao Ando, Terunobu Fujimori, and others) The Contemporary Tea House: Japan's Top Architects Redefine a Tradition, translated by Glenn Rich, Kodansha International (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to books, including The International Design Yearbook 4, Abbeville (New York, NY), 1988; and Yasuhiro Ishimoto: A Tale of Two Cities, edited by Colin Westerbeck, Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL), 1999. Also author of other documents related to architecture, published in Japan.


Kukane, 1971.

Kenchiku no Kaitai, 1975.

Shuho ga, 1979.

(With others) Genshi no riso toshi: Sho no seien kojo, Rikuyosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1980.

(With Kishin Shinoyama and Nagao Shigetake) Manierisumu no yakata: Parattzo deru te, Rikuyosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1980.

(With Kishin Shinoyama and Masanori Aoyagi) Itsuraku to yushu no Roma: Virra adoriana, Rikuyosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1981.

Teien to riku: Setsugekka ni asobu, Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1983.

Koreru ongaku: Sharutoru Daiseido, Rikuyosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1983.

(With Kishin Shinoyama and Tadashi Yokoyama) Barokku no shinju, Rikuyosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1983.

(With Kishin Shinoyama and Yasumitsu Matsunaga) Yuramekuaru deko: Kuraisura Biru, Rikuyosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1984.

(With Kishin Shinoyama and Mayumi Watanabe) Tomei na chitsujo: Akuroporisu, Rikuyosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1984.

Posuto modan genron, Asahi Shuppansha, 1985.

Kenchiku no Seijigaku, Iwanami Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1989.

Seikimatsu no shiso to kenchiku, Iwanami Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1989.

(With Kishin Shinoyama and Kikuchi Moakoto) Kishin no teitaku: Sa Jon Son Bijutsaukan, Rikuyosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1989.

Mitate no shuho: Nihon-teki kukan no dokkai, Kashima Shuppankai (Tokyo, Japan), 1990.

Kenchiku to iu Keishiki, 1991.

(With Kishin Shinoyama and Shigetake Nagao) Medichi-ke no hana: San Rorentso Seido, Rikuyosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1992.

(With Yasuhiro Ishimoto and Inagaki Eizo) Ise Jingu, Iwanami Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1995.

Katsura: La villa imperiale, Electa (Milan, Italy), 2004.


Arata Isozaki is an architect whose work serves as a synthesis of various styles, materials, and technological innovations. Isozaki served a lengthy apprenticeship with Kenzo Tange, whose team designed such buildings as the Imahari, Japan, City Hall in 1958. Isozaki eventually came under the influence of the Metabolists, a band of avant-garde architects who fused technological innovations with quasi-biological approaches—rooted in cell development and naturalism—in an attempt to devise new concepts in utilitarianism. However, Isozaki, while acknowledging the qualities of Metabolist expression, failed to share the movement's emphasis on utilitarian practicality, and he fostered, instead, a recognition of sheer architectural form. Among the notable buildings designed by Isozaki during this period is the Nakayama House, which he derived from geometric shapes.

Isozaki established his own architectural firm in 1963, and in the following few years he developed a style incorporating a range of architectural concepts. In buildings such as the Oita Prefectural Library and that city's Fukuoka Mutual Bank, he employed concrete beams that enriched both structures with sculptural interiors. The Mutual Bank also exemplified Isozaki's use of color to distinguish various spaces, and it demonstrated the architect's flair for decorative distinction. With Tange, meanwhile, Isozaki collaborated on designs for the reconstruction of Skopje in Yugoslavia. In addition, Isozaki and Tange worked on Japan's "Expo '70," a massive industrial fair. But Isozaki ultimately came to disdain "Expo '70," which drew criticism as an exemplification of materialism and capitalist exploitation.

In his subsequent works Isozaki devoted himself to designing buildings reflecting his explorations of architectural space. Rejecting the vast concepts he favored in the 1960s, Isozaki began devising buildings distinguished by cubist foundations and interiors. Among his notable buildings from the 1970s are the Kitakyushu City Museum of Art, which exemplifies the architect's skillful manipulation of cubes, and the West Japan General Exhibition Center, which derives from nautical imagery. Such buildings demonstrate Isozaki's approach to architecture as an exploration and manipulation of space. As Michael Webb noted in Smithsonian, Isozaki "carries with him a knowledge that buildings are transitory and a gut feeling that the role of the architect is to create what he likes: to borrow freely from all that moves him and translate it freely into a pleasing place—pleasing not just visually but to all the senses of an individual moving through it."

Isozaki's work gained increasing recognition in the West after his sculpture "Angel Cage & Gravity Room" was exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in the mid-1970s. Two years later, his solo exhibition, titled "Architecture of Quotation and Metaphor," showed in Chicago, and in 1978 his work was included in the exhibition "A New Wave of Japanese Architecture." Isozaki subsequently provided designs for the renovation of the Palladium, a discotheque established in a former movie palace. Isozaki managed to retain elements of the movie palace's exterior while using grid-like structures and shapes in the interior. For another building, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Isozaki merged cubism with Egyptian shapes to produce a singularly impressive structure. He likewise incorporated geometric designs and Egyptian shapes in renovating the Brooklyn Museum's Beaux Arts building, which featured an imposing obelisk. In 1991, a Time writer acknowledged Isozaki as "one of the world's most exciting and original designers."

Among Isozaki's writings is Katsura Villa: Space and Form, an appraisal of the noteworthy Japanese structure. Choice reviewer T.K. Kitao called Katsura Villa "the best ever" volume on its subject. The critic described Isozaki's essay as "predictably … postmodern."



Asensio Cerver, F., Arata Isozaki, Legorreta Arquitectos, Jean Nouvel, Steven Holl, privately printed (Barcelona, Spain), 1997.

Contemporary Architects, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1994.

Drew, Philip, The Architecture of Arata Isozaki, Granada (New York, NY), 1982.

Stewart, David B., and Hajime Yatsuka, Arata Isozaki: Architecture, 1960-1990, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1991, revised edition with text by Stewart published as Arata Isozaki: Four Decades of Architecture, Universe Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.


Architectural Record, March, 1983, "Isozaki's Museum of Contemporary Art," p. 59; October, 1983, Martin Filler, "The Recent Work of Arata Isozaki," p. 124; May, 1984, Martin Filler, "The Recent Work of Arata Isozaki, Part II," p. 168.

Choice, October, 1987, T.K. Kitao, review of Katsura Villa: Space and Form, pp. 298-299; September, 1999, T.K. Kitao, review of Arata Isozaki: Four Decades of Architecture, p. 129.

House and Garden, November, 1988, Charles Gandee, "Globe-trotting Architect," p. 56.

Library Journal, August, 1987, Kathryn W. Finkelstein, review of Katsura Villa, p. 118.

New Perspectives Quarterly, summer, 1996, review of Architecture without Irony.

Publishers Weekly, May 29, 1987, review of Katura Villa, p. 68.

Smithsonian, July, 1992, Michael Webb, "An Architect at Home in Both the East and West," p. 58.

Time, June 10, 1991, "Arata Isozaki 1960/1990 Architecture," p. 10.