Fumihiko Maki, Pritzker Prize–winning Metabolist, dies at 95


Fumihiko Maki, Pritzker Prize–winning Metabolist, dies at 95

Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki (jeanbaptisteparis/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki died last week on June 6. His Tokyo-based office, Maki and Associates, confirmed the news and said his passing was from old age. Among many accolades, the late architect is remembered for pioneering Metabolism alongside his old classmate Kenzo Tange. He was 95.

The Pritzker Prize–winner is known for myriad building projects in the U.S. and around the world. When Maki won the prestigious award in 1993, representatives from Hyatt Foundation said his designs made of glass, concrete, and steel “fused the best of both eastern and western cultures.” Maki’s 1960 essay Towards the Group Form—penned together with Masato Otaka—is credited with ushering in a new era of Japanese architecture.

Tsuda Hall in Japan
Tsuda Hall in Japan circa 1988 (Wiiii/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Maki was born in 1928 in Tokyo. He completed his Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1952 at the University of Tokyo, where he studied alongside Kenzo Tange. After, Maki spent a year at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He went on to earn a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University. After Harvard, Maki worked for SOM in New York and then Sert, Jackson and Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 1956, Maki became assistant professor of architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. There, he received his first design commission for Steinberg Hall. He spent the next four years of his life teaching and working in St. Louis. From 1962 to 1965, Maki was a faculty member at Harvard GSD, where he’s been a guest lecturer ever since.

Maki left the U.S. in 1965 and moved back to Tokyo to start his own firm, Maki and Associates. There, he cemented himself as a founding member of the Metabolist movement together with Tange, Kiyonori Kikutake, Kisho Kurokawa, and other architects.

drawing of office towers
Unbuilt 1952 proposal for Shinjuku office towers (Courtesy Washington University)

One of Maki’s first big projects in Japan was Hillside Terraces, an apartment complex in Tokyo’s Daikanyama district he finished in 1969. The next year, he completed a jaw-dropping pavilion with Tange and Uzo Nishiyama at Expo ‘70. Two years later, in 1972, Osaka Prefectural Sports Center was built.

The Fujisawa Municipal Gymnasium topped out in 1984 in Kenagawa, Japan. Nine years later, his firm completed the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, one of his best known projects in the U.S.

More built works followed in Singapore, Germany, Canada, St. Louis, Basel, and other cities. In 2009, his office completed both the Annenberg Public Policy Center at University of Pennsylvania and MIT Media Lab extension in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 2008, a collection of Maki’s writings were published by MIT Press in the book Nurturing Dreams. In 2011, Maki won a Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. Two years later, in 2013, Maki’s Tower 4 at the World Trade Center in New York completed.

After his recent passing, Maki and Associates employees said that they’re considering a memorial for Maki in the future.