Museum architecture

When Fumihiko Maki won the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1993, its jurors wove Maki's own definition of architecture into the citation of him and his work. Architecture, Maki had said, is "discovery, not invention." It is a "cultural act in response to the common imagination or vision of the time," and "it is the responsibility of the architect to leave behind buildings that are assets to culture."

Maki is architect of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker Hall, both part of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Maki was born in Tokyo in 1928, and in 1956 he arrived at Washington University to teach in the School of Architecture. While here he received his first commission, to design Steinberg Hall. Steinberg is the center of three buildings that have served the visual arts at Washington University for decades. In its 46-year history Steinberg Hall has been an indisputable contributor to the culture of the University and the St. Louis region.

Maki's design for a much more comprehensive visual arts complex embraces Steinberg Hall, Givens Hall (College of Architecture), and Bixby Hall (College of Art) and extends them in brilliant new buildings representing more than 100,000 square feet of new space.

The creation of the Sam Fox School continues, in material and intellectual ways, a warm and rewarding relationship between the University and Maki that began when he was a fledgling architect. That relationship has been maintained as he proceeded to international renown as a master of space-shaping and a sorcerer of light.

Maki said his intention for the Sam Fox School was to create a new prominence for the eastern part of the campus. "As you know," he said, "previously we had three buildings (Bixby, Steinberg, and Givens) standing in a line without any visible idea of congruity. Now you're beginning to see a complex emerging to bring order to the southern side of the east campus." Maki described the complex as an important new axis on the campus, one perpendicular to the University's landmark administration building, Brookings Hall.

Maki is pleased with the texture created by the contrast between the warmth of limestone and the metallic austerity of aluminum, and believes a visual and material continuity has been established between old and new by cladding the new complex buildings with limestone. As much as limestone or aluminum or glass, light is a paramount building material in his repertory. Light streams into the new Sam Fox School buildings from above and from the sides through generous windows punctuating the building, providing transparency inside and out.

The new Kemper Art Museum building and Walker Hall were officially dedicated and opened to the public on October 25, 2006.

(above text: Robert W. Duffy, AB 67, teaches in University College and the College of Architecture at Washington University. He is former architecture critic of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)

Fumihiko Maki Biography

Maki is principal of Maki & Associates in Tokyo and a 1993 recipient of the Pritzker Prize, generally considered architecture's highest honor. Though firmly rooted in the modernist tradition, his work is renowned for fusing elements of eastern and western culture in monumental buildings that harmonize with the natural and the urban environment.

Born in Tokyo in 1928, Maki earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Tokyo in 1952. He spent the next year at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., then enrolled at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, earning a Master of Architecture degree. From 1956-1963, Maki served as associate professor of architecture at Washington University, where he co-founded the Master of Urban Design Program (with Roger Montgomery) and published Investigations in Collective Form, recently re-issued by the university.

In 1960 he became a founding member of the Metabolists, an influential group of young, avant-garde Japanese architects, who viewed the growth of buildings and cities as a fundamentally organic process, analogous to branches and leaves sprouting off a tree's central trunk. That same year also saw the opening of Maki's very first commission, Washington University's Steinberg Hall, home to the Gallery of Art, Art & Architecture Library and Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences. In 1965, Maki returned to Japan to establish Maki & Associates. Major projects have included the National Museum of Art in Kyoto, the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, the Tepia Science Pavilion in Tokyo, the Nippon Convention Center in Chiba, and the Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus. In the United States, Steinberg Hall remained Maki's only completed building until 1993, which saw the opening of his Yerba Buena Gardens Visual Arts Center in San Francisco. Maki completed the project in collaboration with Washington University alumnus Harish A. Shah (MArch '73), who also serves as project architect for the Sam Fox School.

Maki's current projects include both the $330 million United Nations expansion in Manhattan and Tower 4 at the former World Trade Center site (scheduled to open in 2008 and 2011, respectively). In addition, Maki designing an extension for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's media lab and the Aga Khan Development Network's Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, Canada.

Maki is a member of the Japan Institute of Architects and an honorary fellow of both the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects. In addition to the Pritzker, his many honors include the Japan Institute of Architecture Award (1963, 1985); the Reynolds Memorial Award (1987); and UIA Gold Medal (both 1993).

At Washington University, Maki has served as the Ruth and Norman Moore Guest Visitor in Architecture and in 1987 was awarded an honorary doctorate of art and architecture. An annual guest lectureship was named in his honor.

Related Information

Fumihiko Maki receives the 2011 AIA Gold Medal >>
Featured as Portfolio Project in October 2007 Architecture Record >>

Opening Press Release >>