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Pritzker Architecture Prize 2013: Toyo Ito, Japan Based Architect Wins the Coveted Award

Travelers Today       By    Lena Vazifdar

Updated: Mar 20, 2013 10:08 AM EDT

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71-year-old architect Toyo Ito has won the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize. The Seoul-born architect was announced on Monday as the Prize Laureate. He joins the ranks of other-high profile architects such as Tadao Ando, Rem Koolhaus and Frank Gehry.

"As I did not expect it, I felt really grateful and honored to be awarded the prize," he said to CNN.

The international Pritzer Prize is "to honor a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture," says the prize's website.

Ito is now based in Tokyo and known for reconstructing communal centers after the 2011 tsunami and has done a number of stunning buildings including the Ken Iwata Mother and Child Museum, Imabari City and the Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture, Imabari.

"Ito, whose family ran a miso (bean paste) factory following his father's early death when Ito was 12, has said he wasn't interested in architecture as a youth," reported CNN. "He began taking an interest while attending the University of Tokyo. Throughout his career, Ito's designs have been unusual, vivid and minimalistic -- from the aluminum house he designed for his sister to the Sendai Mediatheque in Miyagi, Japan, which he describes as his professional highlight."

Ito will officially be handed the award in Boston on May 29. Ito travels around the world for projects he works on with his 40 employees at Toyo Ito & Associates.

"I travel 50 to 60 times per year for work," says Ito to CNN. "I love any place where I work."

He said of his design aesthetic to CNN that he is "not fixing my style, I keep extending the possibilities of architecture. In other words, I would like to unbridle architecture from various restrictions and give it more freedom."

Pritzerprize.com says of Ito, "His works have been the subject of museum exhibitions in England, Denmark, the United States, France, Italy, Chile, Taiwan, Belgium, and numerous cities in Japan. Publications by and about him have appeared in all of those countries and more. He holds Honorary Fellowships in the American Institute of Architects, Royal Institute of British Architects, the Architecture Institute of Japan, the Tokyo Society of Architects and Building Engineers, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences."

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