INTERVIEW WITH TADAO ANDO Interviewed by Betty J.

Blum

Compiled under the auspices of the Chicago Architects Oral History Project The Ernest R. Graham Study Center for Architectural Drawings Department of Architecture The Art Institute of Chicago Copyright © 2002 The Art Institute of Chicago

This manuscript is hereby made available to the public for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publication, are reserved to the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries of The Art Institute of Chicago. No part of this manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of The Art Institute of Chicago.

CONTENTS

Preface Outline of Topics Oral History Selected References Appendix: Curriculum Vitæ Index of Names and Buildings

iv vi 1 30 33 35

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It was not long before his distinctive and independent approach to architecture found its own voice and soon commanded the attention of clients worldwide. where we recorded Ando’s recollections of his work in Chicago on one and a half sixty-minute cassettes. in our exchange he covered the essential topics perceptively and with candor and attention to detail. Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Tadao Ando has built two projects in Chicago. Both projects impart Ando’s special blend of the tangible and intangible. Such achievements by this prominent architect deserve exploration and documentation for the historical record. Nevertheless. describing a space that the reader has not experienced firsthand and. an omission that we seek to redress in this interview. the city of his birth. so our session was somewhat abbreviated. whose contributions have helped shape today’s urban environment and Chicago’s image as a global village. in Osaka. I met with Tadao Ando and his associate and translator. As Ando states. the material and the sensory. Tadao Ando Architect and Associates. speaking through a third person was difficult for him. Kulapat Yantrasast. in Ando’s office in Osaka. After an idiosyncratic program of self-education and work in related disciplines. this work has had scant recognition aside from ephemeral notices in the local press. but.PREFACE Chicago’s reputation as the cradle of modern architecture and the home of the Chicago School of Architecture has marked the city with singular architectural distinction. more generally. However. Commissions in Chicago included the Japanese Screen Gallery at The Art Institute of Chicago and a private residence in the city. 2001. in 1969 Tadao Ando opened his office. not as well known is the more recent parallel force of European and Japanese architects. These tape recordings have iv . The day we met proved to be a day when Ando had other unexpected demands on his time. regrettably. This esteem is generally acknowledged to be based on the work of local architectural talent. On May 25.

I was provided with an opportunity to view firsthand a few of Ando’s most celebrated projects in Osaka and elsewhere.been transcribed and have been reviewed by Ando’s wife. and his associate. Annemarie van Roessel deserves our thanks and appreciation for her skillful transcription and final conversion to an electronic version for the Internet. Yumiko. the final version would not be as clear and detailed as it is. Above all. deserve our most sincere thanks. Without their conscientious and discerning attention in the dual-language review process of this document. full-text version on the museum's website: http://www. Ando’s oral history joins others in the Chicago Architects Oral History Project at The Art Institute of Chicago. we are grateful to the Paul and Robert A. Barker Foundation for its generosity in support of this project. in some instances. an invaluable experience for an understanding of Ando’s architectural vocabulary and unique expression.edu/aic/collections/dept_architecture/oralhistory. The shape and content of this final document benefits greatly from the conscientious effort and tireless devotion that Ando and his reviewers expended to clarify and. Kulapat Yantrasast. It is our hope that this undertaking will lead to a greater understanding of his design and approach. for his cooperation in sharing his recollections and ideas.html I am grateful to Tadao Ando.artic. Finally. to further expand his ideas. Further. and by Tadao Ando himself. as scholars will be in years to come. where it is available for study in the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries and in a downloadable. Blum March 2002 v . Tadao’s wife. Yumiko Ando. through Ando’s courtesy and that of his staff. Betty J. References that I found helpful in the preparation of this document are attached. by Kulapat Yantrasast. the spirit of Ando’s expression has been preserved. without which this important narrative may not have been collected.

22 17 17 18 19 23 24 27 vi . Mino and SOM Partners Commission for the Japanese Screen Gallery at The Art Institute of Chicago Ando’s Intention in Design of the Gallery Commission to Design a Private Residence in Chicago Difficulties in Designing and Building a Private Residence in Chicago The Client’s Input The Presence of Nature in Ando’s Design American Contractors Some Central Elements of Ando’s Design More About Features of Chicago Architecture The House In Its Neighborhood Ando’s Approach to Foreign Commissions Other Commissions in the United States Remembering Ando Some Honors and Awards 1 2 3 4 11 12 13 14 15.OUTLINE OF TOPICS Features of Chicago Architecture That Interests Ando Meeting Dr.

with its curtain-wall structure. Was Chicago included on your study route? Ando: Well.Tadao Ando Blum: Today is May 25. That might have influenced him so as to formulate his concept of the glass and steel architecture. in 1992. So for me. in his studio in Osaka. I have read that you traveled all over. I wanted to go there because there are many inspiring buildings. of course. around the world to see important monuments and the work of some architects. In 1989 you were commissioned to design a gallery for Japanese screens at the Art Institute and a few years later. years earlier in the 1960s I know that you informed yourself about what architecture and what important buildings and architects were all about. At the same time. Kulapat Yantrasast. he has been recognized with numerous prestigious awards including the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Although most of his built work is in Japan. It might be possible that Daniel Burnham in the Reliance building. is a probable source that Mies found and tried to develop on his own. I was particularly interested in the Lake Shore Drive apartments by Mies van der Rohe. and I am with Tadao Ando and his associate. 2001. to 1 . Tadao Ando’s work is known and respected throughout the world. in Chicago we are fortunate to have two of his built designs. Before we get into these specific commissions. I was very interested in Chicago. you were commissioned to design a private residence. I thought that Mies van der Rohe in his works was also influenced and impressed by the concept of the Chicago frame.

I was so interested in the Robie house. and also some of the early works that he did when he was still within Sullivan’s office. Blum: Was there anything that you learned about architecture in Chicago at that time that either directly or indirectly influenced your thinking or later work? Ando: It cannot be said that I learned something directly from architecture in Chicago that influenced my thinking or later works. such as. particularly the houses that he built in the Oak Park area. which are essential for creating architecture. like a multi-use building. What is the story of your first meeting with Dr. Blum: About the Art Institute commission—I’ve spoken with Dr. especially the Auditorium building. I reaffirmed an appreciation of traditional Japanese architecture. I recognized the importance of close interchange between the different cultures in and behind architecture. I also learned a great deal from Frank Lloyd Wright and his predecessors. exacting proportion and thorough pursuit of materials. It was one of the very first examples of a complex building which has different functions within one building. Frank Lloyd Wright. Moreover. who told me that he met you at a Skidmore. with its very horizontal composition and long projecting eaves. It may sound strange but from my visit to the Robie house. attracted me. Mino? 2 . But I must say that I learned particularly from Mies many important issues in architecture. Owings and Merrill (SOM) partners’ meeting in Japan that he had been invited to accompany. who was curator of Asian Art at the Art Institute at that time.be able to go and see the original concept was one of my goals. Yutaka Mino.

We have not known one another before. Mino in Osaka for the first time. That was the first time for me to meet Dr. I will explain briefly about my connection to the SOM group. Mino was at the time he came back to Japan with a group of people from SOM. Mino was appointed as a navigator for Japanese traditional culture then. Mr. Japan was selected as the destination of their 1988 trip and some of the partners such as William Drake and Bruce Graham especially wanted to meet me and tour some of my works during their trip. After he returned to Chicago he discussed with the director. I myself had been very interested in the University of Illinois at Chicago campus project by Walter Netsch for a long time. So I personally met a number of partners of SOM in my office in 1988. Blum: Why do you think some high priests in Nara were consulted? Did the selection of an architect have any religious significance? Ando: No.Ando: The first meeting with Dr. but I suppose Dr. James Wood. I do not know if they still have such a program now but in the late 1980s. We did not talk about the Art Institute project when we met Dr. the partners of SOM selected a country of historical and architectural importance for its annual meeting. Because for me it was so stimulating to find one of the first projects generated by using computer analysis. I don’t think there is any direct religious significance in the selection process of an architect for the Japanese screen gallery in the 3 . They were almost fifty including their spouses and Dr. At the time I believe they had a discussion with some high-priests from the Todai-ji in Nara about who would be appropriate for this job. I do not know exactly. every few years. Mino. Mino visited some of my works. After that they agreed that the commission should be given to me. as they were thinking of having a Japanese screen gallery within the Art Institute.

The Japanese screen is called byobu. I thought about the Japanese sense of spatial quality and the difference between Japanese and Western sense of space. As you know the grand exhibition. I do not know why. Blum: Dr. How did this design take shape? Ando: Well. “Treasures of Japanese Buddhist Art from Todai-ji. which is normally inside of a room to be used as a temporary windbreak and/or partition in its original use. and the material that is available. Had you done other interior spaces in museums before accepting the Art Institute commission? Ando: Blum: Ando: Blum: That was my first and only work of that kind. Mino contributed to the success of this important exhibition as the chief curator of the Asian Arts department at the Art Institute. which has been respected as one of the pinnacles of Japanese Buddhism. Mino said that he had seen your work and really admired it and felt that you were the right choice to design the Japanese screen gallery. Why do you think you were chosen for the job? Honestly. Dr. But the Art Institute has strong spiritual as well as practical connections with Todai-ji.” held at the Art Institute in 1986 was a great success.Art Institute. 4 . It’s an unusual design with sixteen pillars just inside the door of the gallery through which one sees the open space with the screens on two sides of the room. first of all. It is also used as the temporary dividing screen that will give privacy in the traditional multi-purpose room and/or function visually to suggest spatial depth.

In Ryoan-ji. Will you explain that? Ando: As is written at the entrance of the screen gallery of the Art Institute. I wanted to create a Japanese feeling of space so that people can feel the spirit of the space in which these art objects would have been located. I thought about how one could put this Japanese art object within a different context. before coming to the viewing area.But it gradually became a decoration such as an art object. I was trying to create the atmosphere or the feeling of space that you would have in Japanese traditional architecture. I wanted to display byobu not only as objects but also as a means to make observers experience Japanese spatial aesthetics by placing them in a contemporary setting reflecting the inheritance of the spirit of the original Japanese space. Byobu seen through the pillars embody the profound love of nature by the traditional Japanese. When I was commissioned to design the screen gallery. Blum: There are sixteen columns of oak. Was there a special reason to use almost half of the gallery space for the pillars rather than to display more objects? Ando: Well. As I was saying 5 . And so I worked with the pillars and some other elements in order to realize this vision. Blum: It has been said that you drew inspiration for your design from the rock garden at the Ryoan-ji in Kyoto. in a way. so they stand alone without a context. I feel that art objects in museums tend to be exhibited by itself. Simultaneously. The space forces the viewer to step inside the door and walk through the columns like a grove of trees. visitors will meditate and find themselves by sitting on the veranda and watching space through rocks placed exquisitely in position on the white sand to see something important behind the material world.

This sense of space is very unique in how one perceives the screen. One of the essentials of Japanese traditional architecture can be said to be geometry. since museums would conventionally display the work in isolation from any context. Would you comment on the idea of the pillars as sculpture. when you enter the porch or the entrance hall of a house or of a building. indeed. Blum: Do I understand correctly that walking through the pillars is part of the process of appreciating the screens? Ando: Yes. so I would like to recreate that kind of feeling of the screen in this context. you would look through columns and you would see the byobu.before. pillars are normally put at the crossing of tatami mats in the grid configuration. They are a kind of installation to express the depth of space. Pillars set inside of the byobu gallery symbolize the spirituality of Japanese traditional architecture and the dim or restrained light of the space also represents the Japanese traditional space. in the traditional architecture. glowing in the back. and second. There are two elements here: first. In traditional Japanese space. individually as well as collectively in the grid configuration? Ando: Pillars in the byobu gallery are not intentionally made as sculpture. or the screens. I want people to perceive the screen within the spirit or the context that it belongs. Blum: You have said that the pillars define space and create an environment that enhances viewing the screens. I wished to recreate the spirit of the place where you would normally see the screens. 6 .

not natural light. they are not raised at all as most museum objects are. Blum: Do I understand correctly that there was the possibility of windows that could have brought in natural light? Ando: But that window was not in the location where the light could be brought in to illuminate the screens.Blum: The screens are not on a platform. Why was florescent light used? Ando: Well. Is that all part of creating the atmosphere of an original setting? Ando: Yes. Soft light illuminates the screens. They are on the floor level and placed around the periphery of the room. I would have hoped that I could have used natural light within the room. but the source is florescent light. they would be placed on tatami mats. 7 . which is on the floor in Japanese architecture. This is quite different from what I have seen in some of your other buildings. it was not possible to get the natural light in the space where the screens are exhibited. So the way it relates to people who are in the space is the same. Blum: Light is a very important element in your architecture and in this gallery it’s quite dim as one enters the gallery and begins to move through the columns toward the screens. so here I wanted to recreate that feeling by having it placed on the floor at the same level. of course. if you see byobu in Japanese architecture. but with the location of the room within the institution.

How did that firm come to be your associate? Ando: Perhaps it was because I was working directly with the Art Institute and that firm was selected by the museum to support this project. You had an associate. a local architectural firm. I spoke with Richard Kalb and he said that you were a pleasure to work with. It was Cone. Blum: Ando: How was the communication effected then? For that. He said that it was a little more expensive. that you worked with on this commission. on that level. I was not directly involved with the selection process. the staff of my office had contact with the local architect’s firm. Blum: Well. So I did not really have the chance to have direct contact with that firm. Why was that cut specified? 8 . Did you find them as easy to work with as they found you? Ando: There was almost no direct contact or relationship between me and the local architectural firm. Did you design those benches for the space? Ando: Blum: Yes.Blum: There are a few dark wood benches in the room. Blum: One thing that Richard Kalb commented on was that you wanted the wood that was used in the gallery in a special cut. Kalb and Wonderlick. they were specially designed for the space. He called it riftsawn oak. He said that you were so easy to work with.

How much input did the client have in decisions that influenced changes in the design? Ando: I was not discontented with the client’s reaction to my design proposals. in the final stage. Blum: It has been said that there were design features. both spaces engender a feeling of spirituality. Blum: At the same time.Ando: I don’t have any recollection of that. Probably there may have been some other options. one can see and feel the texture of the wood in the benches and on the floor. This is the material that I felt comfortable with and that. I think that Jim Wood and Dr. but finally I chose to work with this one. I chose to work with. Mino really were very brave to be able to endorse this project in the way it is. that you originally proposed but that are not in the room we see today. I was fortunate enough to see this morning. was there a connection between the two projects? 9 . such as the color of the columns and material of the floor. At the same time. it’s very unique because it’s a gallery that is specially for the display of the Japanese screen and it’s a permanent space. an extraordinary church in Osaka that through the courtesy of your office. Also. or almost in the same years that the Art Institute gallery was being worked on you were also working on the Church of the Light. I think this is the cut and the color of wood that I wanted. I found that the Art Institute gallery and the Church of the Light are similar in some ways: both have dimly lit contemplative interiors. From your point of view. so it is unique in that sense.

Blum: Ando: Was there any connection between the two projects? Because I’m the same man working on both. is there anything you would change? Ando: No. Blum: Dr. For example. that made me make the decision to use the wood in both projects. How do you think the Japanese screen gallery contributed to achieving this goal? Ando: Blum: Hopefully. of the elements. Conversely. Now that you can look back on the project with some distance. the spirit. probably there was something that connects them on a level that I cannot explain well. because when I chose to use wood as materials. in this case. So there would be something. So. Japan and Korea. I chose it because it could best express the quality of the element. in each case. given the opportunity. another type of wood was selected for the pillars because it gives strength to the form of the pillars.Ando: Of course. each of the elements and materials was selected to fit with the expression. Mino said at the time the reinstalled Asian galleries reopened to the public and your room was dedicated that it was his hope that the new galleries will help to bring a greater understanding of the art and culture of China. They feel at ease and they strongly feel their presence within the space. some connection. yes. I used to work with this cut of wood because it had a very good tactility when people walk on it. 10 . for the floor. even though I cannot put it into words.

It’s difficult to talk about it because you have to experience it by yourself in the space. For example. Blum: Several years later. in 1992. For that reason they speak about the same thing that I want to create in a house. I believe that they are the same because they deal with the habitat of mankind.Blum: Has the Japanese screen gallery at the Art Institute brought other museum commissions to you? Ando: Blum: No. you were commissioned to design a private residence in Chicago. “it was my learned architectural manifesto. the Azuma house and the House in Chicago. even though they are very different in their sizes. I want to give people the sense of living in a certain 11 . You have said. At the same time. From what I have read about a house that you designed early in your career. in 1976 in Osaka—the Azuma house—it seems to have provided the prototype for many of the houses that followed. you can sense the change of seasons from spring to summer to autumn and to winter. in the case of the Azuma house. I want them to feel that they are living with nature. So people feel that they are living together with nature even in the midst of the city and this is the same with the House in Chicago. because the space in the middle is an open court. Is there anything more about the Japanese screen gallery that you would like us to know? Ando: Not particularly.” What did you mean? Ando: Well. When people live in a house or live in a place. with people’s lives.

place. So the fact that this house could be realized and finished in a way that we both are very happy with is because of the contributions and intention that the owner has put into the project. belonging to a particular place. But in this case. but a house for people to live in would be difficult because I am not familiar with Americans and I probably would not be able to do a house. you had written that “it would be very difficult to build a house in America. he was willing to help and to communicate during the process of the house to make it work. Much earlier than the House in Chicago commission. which is Osaka in one case and Chicago in the other. Blum: I understand that the owner’s enthusiasm and commitment to the project was a compelling factor for you to accept the commission. the owner of the house. first because I am Japanese. To have to design a house for an American who is not living a familiar lifestyle would be very difficult. I could probably do a shopping center or an art museum. Blum: The Chicago residence—am I correct to understand that it was your first complete American project? Ando: Blum: Yes. I don’t 12 . it is. has a consistent passion and understanding for my works.” Why did you decide to accept this commission in light of your statement? Ando: Well. but what did you offer and propose that attracted him to you? Ando: The client personally researched my previous house projects and he might have intuitively found some points that fascinated him.

of course. But we are happy to have him as a client. people all have their own ways of living. He has never mentioned anything about that. The client is very passionate about this.think I had offered or proposed to him anything out of the ordinary. and he had a lot of input during the entire process. one is of course for the client himself. He had seen an exhibition of my works held at MoMA in New York in the autumn of 1991. Did the owner have input during the design phase. Blum: Ando: Blum: Do you know if he had considered any other architects? I have no idea. These three functions should be well 13 . Blum: Ando: Can you give an example of this? Two major requests were clearly expressed. for a house. We can well understand each other beyond the difference of cultural background as well as language barrier. Blum: Under what circumstances did the client first contact you to propose the commission? Ando: He wrote to me directly without any recommendation or introduction by others. to help you understand how he was going to use the space or use the house? Ando: Well. The house is to be composed of three sections. he wrote to me in the spring of 1992 inquiring if I would be interested in designing a house for him. One is to keep privacy for the people. Second section is for his parents and another section is for his guests.

combined. Also he has one giant poplar (cottonwood) tree in his garden and he wanted to preserve it in the new house’s garden as well. Blum: You have said that one of your design goals for this house is about people living together with nature. Will you expand on that idea and explain why nature is so essential to your architecture? Ando: We are living in the high-pressured society. I feel that a typical process of building a house. We need to balance our daily life between 14 . his preferences. the house owns the owner. not only abroad but also in Japan. first the house was finished successfully because of the ideas that I had. but it seems. together with the devotion and passion that the client had in order to realize his dream in the house. Keeping privacy for each section with open spaces. He is completely devoted to it and its care. That is surely evident in the House in Chicago because the entire interior looks inward towards the reflecting pond and garden whose ever-changing shadows and reflections color the mood of the house at every moment. Blum: I was fortunate enough recently to go through this extraordinary house and it may be that the owner owns the house. it was possible to achieve in a very successful way. We are over-burdened with advanced technology. which serve to connect them together. so to combine these within one successful process could be difficult. because of our relationship and his understanding. In this case. is very difficult. You may have your ideas and at the same time the client has his own ways of living. Did you anticipate that? Ando: Well.

Blum: Ando: Why did the first contractor stop to work? Because they were not able to build the house up to the quality that the client and I wished. the fact that it took six years to construct was based on the contractors.our native circulation and the high-pressured technological aspects. I believe the necessity to sense nature that surrounds our life has become more and more critical. The craftsmanship. Moreover. When the first contractor finished the first floor—they could not continue the work. the expertise or the method of how the supervisor or the project manager controls the project… Blum: Are you referring to the contractor? 15 . and the level of expectation are also very different. or was it a difference in how concrete is handled in Japan and in America? Ando: Many factors can be so different starting from the perception or the understanding of concrete as a material here in Japan and in America. They realized that they could not do the quality of work that was demanded for that project. the knowledge. They could not continue to do it. Blum: Ando: Why did the project take six years to complete? Well. So then another one had to be hired to continue the work. Blum: Was this a problem of poor American workmanship. I hope my building will awaken people’s sensitivity toward nature in their everyday life.

It was difficult because it’s the first encounter. It seems that they also understood the design and concepts up to a level but because our backgrounds in architecture were quite different.Ando: The contractor. They were responsible for the execution of our design and supervising the construction on a daily basis. we can cover or talk about something in general. Blum: How did you achieve communication between the two offices on the practical as well as the conceptual level? Ando: Of course. some things may not have been totally understood at first. for the first time. yes. So. we had a Chicago-based architect. more in terms of the conceptual issues. If you wish to. probably. Blum: So there were some things that were not totally understood perhaps because their background was different? Ando: Yes. the team from Japan and the team from America would have to work together. my thoughts of 16 . by the traditional forms of communication. telephone and fax are some conventional modes of conveying the intentions and the information. Blum: There was a local architectural firm that was connected to this project as well. What were they responsible for? Ando: Yes. The appreciation and understanding of architecture were different—I’m not saying that one is better and one is worse—but because they see different things in architecture and for communication to take off. it could take some time. It was rather different.

17 . Rather it is very interesting for me to challenge it to the new horizon.architecture. It can arguably be called the land of father architects. If I got started talking about Chicago. Wright and Sullivan. Blum: Did the architectural tradition of Chicago exert any pressure on you. you have a number of masterpieces created by master architects such as Mies van der Rohe. In Chicago. So I don’t know if it would be appropriate to speak about it today. It was of course such a thrilling experience for me to design a house for a client in the center of Chicago because I had long been an admirer of Mies. some of these questions are not very interesting. Well. We discussed with the client regarding his hope how he wants to live his own life. The most important is to maintain the quality of living of the occupants. your working procedure. wind and existing tall trees—private/public zoning and exterior/interior continuity. Blum: What are the central elements to the design and presence of the building? Ando: Some of the important ideas are the close relationship with nature—light. They are not the central elements to the design of the building or to the presence of the building. But to be commissioned for a project in Chicago did not put any particular pressure on me. it could well be a very long story. Wright and Louis Sullivan. or your design? Ando: Chicago is one of the most special places for an architect because Chicago has a long tradition and rich heritage of early modernist architecture. We should know what is the most important for the client prior to starting our design. water.

” Is that what you feel the House in Chicago is about? 18 . conditions were ripe for a particular type of building to take shape. in the architectural society we know that there’s a system called the Chicago frame. an original. Well. first. a creation of a new type in architecture. because of the invention of the elevator.Blum: Would you speak just a little bit about it. which was discovered in the 1800s. Within that context of Chicago. What was your thinking about the contrast between the house you designed and other houses on the street? Ando: The site is located in midtown Chicago. which was the skyscraper. Of course. it’s the first place where skyscrapers were built and developed. At the same time. Also I did not want to disturb the streetscape by inserting something much too strong. where dwellers have naturally bustled outside of their houses. if you talk about Chicago. I see the House in Chicago… Blum: The House in Chicago looks dramatically different from its neighbors on the street. So I wanted to create a serene microcosmos within the private space. about how it touched your work in the city? Ando: That would be a long story. That was a great moment in history when the structural interpretation and the architectural expression became united in one single architectural form or prototype. [Tape 1: Side 2] Blum: You have written an article titled “Wedge in Circumstances.

Blum: Ando: Blum: Do you feel the House in Chicago is an example of such a “wedge”? Yes. architecture will always be located within a given context or circumstance and that article expressed the meaning of how a new intervention could fit within circumstances.” What are some of the biggest hurdles you are faced with when working overseas? Ando: Well. So these are the first things that have made it difficult. yes.Ando: For me. when 19 . Of course. probably one of the most difficult challenges would be because people in Japan and people in Europe or America or different places have different understandings or different consciousness toward things in society. By putting in this wedge or this new element in a given context. I can say that. Blum: You and your architecture seem so very independent. From what I read. You have said. How do you accommodate these cultural differences? Ando: What you have to do is try to understand the context of the place where you will be working. “everything is different when working overseas. For example. in terms of trying to understand the climate or the cultural context or cultural history of that place in order to be able to work well within those conditions. many American projects. you are creating a new influence over the entire thing and an improvement for the whole circumstances or the environment. we also have different values when it comes to architecture. you are doing many overseas projects.

It is the same for architects in Japan who learn about architecture in the West and try to combine that knowledge with their independent thinking in order to develop something new. he developed his ideas of the Prairie-style house. pillar and floor or ceiling. the ceiling. when you look at this house . It then becomes a house type quite unique in its own achievements. He had a strong admiration for the ukiyo-e paintings. you see the expression that he tried to incorporate: his understanding of Japanese culture together with his individual expression as an architect. In 1915 when he came to work on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. So with his independent thinking. It’s also known that he was influenced by the writings in The Book of Tea by Okakura Tenshin. he had been very interested in Japanese art. 20 . Frank Lloyd Wright might have learned a lot from looking at the Byodo-in. It might be then that he realized that the space of architecture was not what would be defined by the floor. the wall. It is interesting because when you look at Frank Lloyd Wright’s life. Wright might have learned this from The Book of Tea. a replica of the Ho-o-den [Phoenix Hall] of Byodo-in temple from Japan. but it was actually the space itself that exists within that made the space of the building. He was influenced in a way by his experience at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. But the actual invisible space inside is the essence of architecture. The result may not have a direct relationship to the building that had inspired it. the architect has developed the thought on his own system. he was deeply impressed. The importance of architecture resides not in individual elements such as wall. which he also collected. which seems to spread its wings out into the landscape. he was building this house in the Kansai area at about the same time. the Yamamura house.Frank Lloyd Wright came to Japan to work on some of his projects here… There’s a house he designed in the Kansai area. When he saw the Japanese pavilion. For that house.

Blum: Are you saying that this is what you have done with foreign commissions? Ando: Well. I think you can say that. paper and natural pebbles. How do you accommodate that in your thinking? Ando: Of course. You may not be able to see it within the form. Whereas the architecture in the West is very permanent in its use of materials. Japanese traditional architecture. Blum: One of the big differences that is said to be very difficult to reconcile is the Japanese sense of impermanence and the Western sense of permanence. both are oscillating ideas that I use at different times and in combination. I try to understand and learn from the local context. and the materials architects choose to express those ideas. They decay gradually in due course of time but the spiritual essence will last. from Western civilization. but for the spirit of the place or the spirit of the architecture. was aimed to be with nature and decayed with nature. I try to incorporate the Japanese senses or the Japanese spirit. 21 . Blum: Ando: And with Western commissions? Modern architecture as we know it is a development from the Western way of thinking. fragile and breakable as they mostly employ natural materials such as wood. especially in architecture. For me. these are two different modes because with Japanese architecture the sense of impermanence is almost like insulation at one time. But within that context. They are very light. which had impermanence of materials.

Blum: Because Chicago climate extremes can be so harsh—very cold and windy in winter and very hot and humid in summer—what role did that play in the design and selection of materials that you used in the House in Chicago? Ando: Even in Japan there are different kinds of climate. which is very common in Japan. in a way. first I was trying to accommodate the complete context of the place and at the same time trying to present this sense of integration of outside and inside. Trying to put that in a Western context for the first time was. At the same time. the tireless support and devotion of the client to the realization of this project was critical to that success. I wanted to see what would be developed out of that attempt. Blum: Ando: In your opinion. Blum: The second contractor? 22 . But even beyond that. and try to understand it. I always imagine buildings within that context. how would you evaluate that effort? I’m satisfied with the outcome. Blum: Did the House in Chicago provide an opportunity to try any innovative features that you had not used before? Ando: Well. I’m also impressed with the effort and attempt of the contractor. For example. Hokkaido. a challenge. So when I was working for the House in Chicago. I recalled the experience of that Hokkaido work and tried to understand the climate in Chicago. which also has a harsh weather similar to Chicago.

Blum: Do you think the House in Chicago helped you get the Dallas commission? Ando: No. Texas.Ando: Up to the completion there were three contractors. Blum: Ando: Would you take on another residential project in the States? You mean if a chance comes? Well. because it needs a lot of understanding. the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The client of the Dallas house has no direct connection to the owner of the House in Chicago. which will be a house next to a house designed by Richard Meier in Dallas. All of them worked very hard to try to achieve the building in the best way. now I’m working on one residential project. But still. a house is still a difficult task to tackle. They have their own taste and norm to judge and each one contacted me after due consideration by themselves. even after the realization of the House in Chicago. It was not something that they had experienced before as well. and also the soon-to-be opened Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. [Massachusetts]. Also I’ve been commissioned to work on the expansion for the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. 23 . Louis and the Calder museum in Philadelphia. it’s still very difficult to realize a residential project within the States. Even though I’ve been working for some projects in the United States. I don’t think so. Blum: Ando: Do you have other projects in the United States? I’m working on some other projects in the United States—for example.

I would like to be remembered as an architect who courageously pursue his own ideas and ideal without being trifled with the architectural streams of time.Blum: Ando: Blum: Have you become an American art museum specialist? No. what would you want? I want my work to be able to provoke thoughts in people when they come in contact with the buildings or with the architecture. I want people to feel as if the wind is 24 . For example. of course. you never know if you will be remembered or just gone by nameless. I know that you have entered some competitions. I have not become that. that they’re living within this place which is Chicago and that inspires them to do something for themselves. no. But if I could be remembered. a house in which they feel that they are connected with nature. Ando.” But in a way this is not really a competition. Blum: It looks like a shoji screen skyscraper to me. how would you like to be remembered? Ando: Especially for architects. I want my architecture to embody that power. Mr. It’s the “Late Entries to the Chicago Tribune Competition. I remember this. In this case. Blum: Ando: If you had your choice. because it is something that is born out of my imagination. It’s very difficult and it’s almost natural that the future will choose to remember what it wants to remember. Do you remember this one? Ando: Yes. I would like to show you one that I think is one of your earliest.

One thing I’m curious about is that you mentioned that I appear independent. I know you’re impatient because you have many other commitments today. Ando: Thank you. you feel something beyond just physical elements that are there. if you want to add anything to make your ideas clearer we. you feel the connection between the space. of course.passing through these columns and creates something that reminds them of something beyond physicality. Another example. if you put the information on the web site and someone comes to read it. but I don’t feel that I would have so much more to speak about. Blum: Mr. Do you mean speaking through an interpreter? Was it this process that you find difficult? Ando: It’s difficult in the sense that I will never be able to communicate directly with the actual audience because. Blum: When the first draft of our exchange is transcribed. would welcome that. including a friend’s funeral. But I don’t feel myself that I’m independent. when you are in this space and look out to this outdoor space. for example. So for this reason it is difficult to be specific or to make oneself understood. Do you think I am? 25 . Ando. you feel the depth. I want to thank you very much for the time that you’ve given to this interview. I’m concerned whether that medium could convey the ideas that I have. Ando: Blum: For me it’s very difficult to give interviews like this.

something like that. because I do not go to certain types of events or social gatherings. Ando: For me. Blum: That wasn’t the idea behind what I said about being independent. leads me to believe that you’re very independent. I will never want to insult others unreasonably and I do not want to be insulted by others unfairly. if there is an exhibition of the Pritzker Prize architecture. I would not go. Many people may think that I am independent or isolated in that sense. I think it’s a quality that very few architects are able to achieve. or if there are receptions or awards. even though itself it’s independent as an element. so different from everything else. People probably perceive me as being independent because I do not socialize much. I think that many people see you and your work like that. it converses with so many things around it: the 26 .Blum: I think you are independent. Absolutely! I hope you understand that it wasn’t an insult. I think that your architecture stands alone. it’s so remarkable. That’s what I see as an expression of your independence. But I don’t feel that I am like that. I think that architecture. character. We should respect each other to make a positive difference in person. religion and others. Ando: Oh. I said it as a compliment. For example. culture. I would hardly go. Thank you. Just your manner as I’ve had contact with you for the last hour or so. Blum: Ando: Well. I understand. But I want to get the absolute freedom or liberty throughout my life. it’s so unique.

Do you think that’s true? Do you see it in the work? Blum: I see it in the work and I’ve had the unique opportunity to see it in the man. you donated the money to a fund for children who had been orphaned by the earthquake in Kobe. I’ve been able to endow a lot of things that I find in need in our society. I didn’t feel that I had particularly labored to receive such a prize. the Pritzker Prize that you mentioned. I am struck that you feel that “independent” may not be the most appropriate word to describe you and your work. I am happy with that. Blum: Well. I gave the money to the fund for the orphans from the earthquake incident in 1995. At the same time. 27 . I gave it to an exchange program between Japanese and Asian students. when you did win the Pritzker Prize. I was glad. You mentioned the Pritzker Architecture Prize and said you don’t care about prizes and awards like that—incidentally. so it’s better to give that to someone else and let them try to make something out of that. that was very generous. Thank you very much.environment or things around that make it become itself. when I received the money from the Carlsberg Architectural Prize. Because of the prizes that I’ve received. that’s a very independent to say—however. So do you think a little differently about prizes now? [Tape 2: Side 1] Ando: Now I fully understand why you use the word “independent” to describe me and my works. The prize money really allowed you to do something wonderful for some people in need. For example.

Next time I will give a lecture in connection with the inauguration of the Pulitzer Foundation in October. I think that synonymous with “independent” would be “courageous. please come to the event. If you have a chance. It encourages me and gives me energy to keep challenging. thank you very much. 28 .” Ando: Thank you. it’s because I’m able to work on many of these social projects freely upon my own beliefs and my own responsibility. How do you view your Chicago commissions in the context of the larger body of your work? Ando: I am not so interested in the scale of architecture. Blum: Well. This kind of relationship is really important. especially when you can show to the society that an architect from our own occupation can contribute to make it a better place. Then society recognizes the importance of architecture in return. it is very strong. It’s something that every architect should think about. So probably by being independent. I am still challenged to design a house at its minimum size. Blum: While you were speaking and I heard the word “independent” come back again. I would like to pursue achieving the quality of space. I don’t think the byobu gallery in The Art Institute of Chicago is small. Because I wanted to realize the spiritual depth and spatial richness in the byobu gallery. I have my own way of working in the system.Ando: I think that is importantly what an architect can do for the society. Jim Wood. the director of the Art Institute will also be coming. Either it is large or small.

Why do you make art prints? Ando: These prints or these kinds of drawings are the things that I have been doing for more than thirty years. Blum: Thank you very much. This is also for you to take. two very large color lithographs of the Urban Egg. This is a new book with some of the photographs of the places where you visited in Japan this time.Blum: It has been written that Tadao Ando is as much an artist as an architect and a builder. Blum: Ando: The ten that we have. It’s a lovely souvenir. It’s also because I always try to keep record of the progress of my thinking by making these drawings. We also have a portfolio of ten smaller silk-screened prints of your various projects. some of the representative projects. 29 . are they of your most important projects? Yes. We have in our collection at the Art Institute. Because I wish to express my thinking and so I tried to convey the idea through these drawings. I think that some of the drawings were also made for the collection of the Art Institute.

1996. Paul. Ltd. Herbert. The Colours of Light Tadao Ando Architecture. Isozaki” Casabella 62 (February 1998):12-29 Debartolo. editor. 2. Pare. 1984. “Architecture of Austere Works Receives the Pritzker Prize. 38.” Architectural Record 187 (April 1999):132-37. “Ando vs. Richard.” New York Times 17 April 1995. “Laureate in a Land of Zen and Microchips. Newman. Goldberger. “Having a Heart. Kamin. 1995. “New Relations Between the Space and the Person. “Art in All Its Majesty.5.” Architecture 81 (September 1992):25. “Aalto Award to Ando…” Architecture 74 (October 1985):11-12.” Chicago Tribune 31 May 1992. Ltd. Chris. Blair. 3. Kenneth. M.” Chicago Tribune. 14.” Japan Architect 247 (October/November 1977):44-46. p.. _____ “Tadao Ando: a Designer of Dreams. Tadao. Furuyama. Tadao Ando Complete Works. Nils C. London: Phaidon Press. p. Frampton. Muschamp. Pollock. W. p. p. Merrill. Naomi R. p. Switzerland: Birkhauser. Tadao Ando. Writings.” Japan Architect (April 1985):43-45.” Chicago Tribune 21 April 1995. New York: Rizzoli.SELECTED REFERENCES Ando. Raul. “Urban Zen. Tadao Ando Buildings. Basel. “On Tadao Ando: A Cube Descending a Staircase. Goozner. Japanese Architect Tadao Ando Tests the Wintry Waters of Chicago.. A. Masao. “Building for the First Time on American Soil. London: Phaidon Press. 1996. Fawcett. 1 June 1992. Nino. “Japanese Architect Wins Pritzker Award.” New York Times 23 April 1995. 30 .” Chicago (January 1997):16. Francesco Dal Co. Projects. “Ando Gallery Opens in Chicago.” Chicago Tribune 17 April 1995. Finne.

p. Waxman. “A Natural Designer. “Tadao Ando: Eychaner/Lee House. 31 . _____.” Architecture and Urbanism 11 (November 1998):118-123.” Architectural Record 180 (September 1992):86-91. “Tadao Ando: Eychaner/Lee House.” Architectural Review 193 (July 1993):8. Review of “Tadao Ando: The Yale Studio and Current Works. 13-14. “Mastery in Mystery.” Chicago Tribune 28 May 1995. Sharon. Stringfellow.” In Journal of Architectural Education. “Tadao Ando Architect & Associates: Eychaner/Lee House.” GA Houses 57 (August 1998):30-53. George. Val K.” GA Houses 45 (March 1995):10-12. 43 (Summer 1990):48-50.” Japan Architect 31 (1998):10-31._____. “Tadao Ando: Eychaner/Lee House. Warke. “In the Japanese Spirit: Japanese Screen Gallery. “ Stage for Life.” Architectural Review 208 (July 2000):42-47.

Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies. 1992 Chevalier de l’order des Arts et des Lettres. 1995 Royal Gold Medal. New York. 1991 Carlsberg Architectural Prize. 1987 Columbia University. 1997 Gold Medal. Paris. 1982 Tadao Ando’s Architecture. Osaka Japan Self educated. The American Institute of Architects. sculptor’s assistant. 1969 + Yale University. 2001 32 . Helsinki and Jyvaskyla. 1985 Beyond Horizons in Architecture. 1993 Tadao Ando: Architect. 1985 Gold Medal of Architecture. Denmark. interiors. Brunner Memorial Prize. Museum of Modern Art. French Academy of Architecture. 1962-1969 Traveled in Europe. Paris. 1989 Honorary Fellow. France. 1978 Tadao Ando: Minimalisme. Bulgaria. 1983 Tadao Ando: Architecture. Royal Institute of British Architects. 2002 Selected Exhibitions: A New Wave of Japanese Architecture. 1960-1965 Established Tadao Ando Architect & Associates. St. 1995 Pritzker Architecture Prize. furniture. Missouri. 1990 Tokyo University. 1997 Visiting Professor: Selected Honors And Awards: Architectural Institute of Japan. worked part-time in architectural office. 1991 Arnold W. 1997 Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Louis.CURRICULUM VITAE Born: Education: Work Experience: 13 September 1941. The American Institute of Architects. Institut Francais d’Architecture. Sofia. 1988 Harvard University. 1991 Beyond New Horizons. Africa United States Various jobs: prepared billboards. Finland. 1979 Alvar Aalto Medal. New York. American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. The finnish Association of Architects. Centre Georges Pompidou. France.

Illinois 2 Ryoan-ji Temple. Pennsylvania 23 Church of Light. Japan 20 Calder Museum. Kulapat 1 Modern Art Museum of Ft. Frederick (house). Chicago. Japan 20 Japanese Pavilion. Illinois 1 Robie. Ashiya. Worth. Yutaka 2. Frank Lloyd 2. Fort Worth. Illinois 1 Graham. Chicago. Osaka. Sumiyoshi. Illinois 11-19. 28 Wright. Louis. 3 Sullivan. 9 Yamamura. Nara. 20 33 . Illinois 2 Azuma House (aka Row House). 4 Wood. Okakura 20 Todai-ji Temple. Uji. Illinois 20 Kalb. Japanese Screen Gallery. Bruce 3 House in Chicago.INDEX OF NAMES AND BUILDINGS Art Institute of Chicago. St. 3. Daniel Hudson 1 Byodo-in Temple. Ludwig 1. Tokyo. New York 13 Netsch. Chicago. Illinois 310 Auditorium Building. Massachusetts 23 Cone. Japan 9 Clark Art Institute. Chicago. 4. William (Bill) 3 860-880 Lake Shore Drive. Texas 23 Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Kyoto. 9. Tazaemon (house). 17 Mino. Osaka. Japan 20 Yantrasast. Williamstown. Kalb & Wonderlick 8 Drake. Japan 3. New York City. Japan 5 Skidmore. Walter 3 Pulitzer Foundation. World’s Columbian Exposition 1893-1894. Phoenix Hall. Richard 23 Mies van der Rohe. 17. Chicago. James 3. Louis 17 Tenshin. Chicago. Philadelphia. Missouri 23. 2. Owings & Merrill (SOM) 2. 22-23 Imperial Hotel. Richard 8 Meier. Japan 11 Burnham. Chicago. 28 Reliance Building.

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