Author Archives: Raymund Ryan, Curator of Architecture, Heinz Architectural Center

Japanese Architects at the Heinz Architectural Center


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Tezuka Architects’ run run run, from the 2013 Carnegie International; Photo: Greenhouse Media

As part of the 2013 Carnegie International, Tokyo-based Tezuka Architects designed an installation titled run run run for the largest gallery of the Heinz Architectural Center, the architecture department of the Carnegie Museum of Art. This temporary installation consists of a flowing curtain, almost elliptical in plan, onto which film is screened from multiple projectors. The films depict children at play at the Fuji Kindergarten, an innovative structure recently realized by Takaharu and Yui Tezuka in the Tokyo suburbs. For the Pittsburgh installation, balloons and a padded floor surface augment an atmosphere of play and interactivity.

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Shigeru Ban’s Paper Loghouse, from the exhibition Strangely Familiar: Design and Everyday Life

This gallery has in fact hosted several installations and exhibitions of work by Japanese architects, reflecting Japan’s significant contributions to contemporary architectural culture. Japanese architects have been awarded the Pritzker Prize, the world’s most prestigious prize for architects, on five occasions, including Tadao Ando in 1995 and the team of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa in 2010; only the United States has had more Pritzker laureates. Furthermore, Japan has produced seminal new talents each decade: Shigeru Ban and Sejima/Nishizawa in the 1990s, Tezuka Architects in the 2000s, and most recently, Sou Fujimoto and Junya Ishigami.

In 2003, as part of Strangely Familiar: Design and Everyday Life, the Heinz Architectural Center accommodated an entire house. Made from cardboard tubes and resting on Kirin beer crates, Paper Loghouse was designed by Shigeru Ban as emergency housing in the aftermath of the 1995 Kobe earthquake.

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Models by Toshiko Mori, from the exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: Renewing the Legacy

In 2005, for Frank Lloyd Wright: Renewing the Legacy, the Japanese-born architect Toshiko Mori displayed models of her competition-winning proposal, now completed, to build a visitors center next to Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, New York.

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Installation view of White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes

For 2012’s White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes, dramatic new structures on islands in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea were presented in our largest gallery. Projects on Naoshima by Tadao Ando were represented by large topographic models and drawings by this Osaka-based master. Four maquettes made from household materials revealed the design process of Ryue Nishizawa for his enigmatic Teshima Art Museum, a collaboration with the artist Rei Naito. An adjacent space was occupied by a transparent model of Seirensho, the re-working by Hiroshi Sambuichi of a former copper refinery on Inujima.

It may be a simplification to draw direct connections between the works of these outstanding Japanese architects presented here in Pittsburgh. Nevertheless each operates in a cultural continuum that values materiality, space, lightness, and communication with nature.

Tezuka Architects: Artist Talk, October 7


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Tezuka Architects design with daily life in mind. In an era when many architects, especially those termed “starchitects,” seem interested in strange form for strange form’s sake, Takaharu and Yui Tezuka are responsible for buildings that provide optimal space for activity with strategic use of material. Their work reinforces progressive ideas of health, community and social gathering.

This year the 2013 Carnegie International includes architecture for the first time. As part of The Playground Project, a key component of the International, Tezuka Architects have designed an installation titled run, run, run in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Heinz Architectural Center. Through cinematic images and sound, the installation evokes the architects’ Fuji Kindergarten in suburban Tokyo. The kindergarten consists of an oval roof deck accessible from an open court used by children year-round. The children run energetically about this deck yet also enjoy moments of quieter play, frequently in the shade of mature zelkova trees.

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Sketch for installation of run, run, run; Courtesy of Tezuka Architects

In addition to Fuji Kindergarten, the Tezukas have recently built kindergartens in Miyagi Prefecture, for communities devastated by the 2011 tsunami, and a medical facility near Kobe for children undergoing chemotherapy. Each project communicates a faith in the possibility of architecture to aid people’s lives.

Join us for an artist talk on Monday, October 7, at Carnegie Lecture Hall, where Takaharu Tezuka will describe the vividly social buildings realized by his practice. Co-sponsored by the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, the lecture is free and takes place at 6:30.

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Pittsburgh & Elsewhere


If you have the good fortune to visit the southern Japanese island of Naoshima—one of the six sites in our current exhibition at the Heinz Architectural Center, White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapesbe sure to look for several works by the Japanese-born, New York-based artist, Hiroshi Sugimoto. You may already know his work from the cover of the last U2 album, No Line on the Horizon, with its segmented photograph of ocean and sky.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto, detail of Time Exposed

In a small village on Naoshima, Sugimoto has restored an Edo-period shrine and inserted a staircase of “optical glass” that descends to an underground stone chamber. It has that special Japanese quality of combining, simultaneously, the traditional and the modern. In common with his photographs, there is a division between an upper and a lower half. Sugimoto has more work at Park, one of several buildings on Naoshima by the great Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Like other Ando interventions, Park functions as a hotel or lodge in which you are surrounded by works of art.

Sugimoto has also installed more than a dozen images of sea and sky outdoors on the island, gelatin silver prints set in sealed acrylic boxes. Titled Time Exposed (1980–97), several of these are placed on exterior concrete walls at Benesse House, an early building by Ando, where they line up to either side of a slot of space that offers a prospect of real sea and sky. Others are found, as if by chance, out in the landscape, on rocks overlooking the sea. I love the sense of discovery when one of these artworks is encountered all by itself in the natural world.

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From the 1991 Carnegie International, Hiroshi Sugimoto, detail of Time Exposed, 1991, silver gelatin prints, wall, and water, each photograph 20 x 24 in.; Photo courtesy of the artist

Sugimoto is drawn to the effect of sunlight, moisture and temperature on these photographic works. He seems to be interested in not divorcing or protecting them entirely from nature. It was then a very nice surprise to read that Sugimoto first experimented with situating photographs outdoors here in Pittsburgh when, for the Carnegie International in 1991, he sited twenty-five works out in the museum’s Sculpture Court. Some were even placed inside the fountain, behind the flow of water which was allowed to freeze that winter.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto, Irish Sea, Isle of Man (#337), 1990, gelatin silver print in sealed plastic frame; Purchase: gift of Milton Fine

Photographs such as these are typically printed in editions. We checked the list of works on view on Naoshima today against the works acquired by the Carnegie Museum in the early 1990s. There were two matches; that’s to say, two of the photographs in our collection are also in the collection on Naoshima. One of these is Irish Sea, Isle of Man I (#337), a prospect not far from the home of U2’s Bono in Dublin. We decided to include it in the exhibition. You may perhaps imagine yourself halfway around the world, in Ireland or on a distant Japanese island.