An 87-year-old Japanese designer just won the 'Nobel Prize of architecture.' Here are some of his most stunning masterpieces.

Nora Tam/South China Morning Post/Getty ImagesJapanese master architect Arata Isozaki.
  • Japanese architect Arata Isozaki was awarded the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize, which is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of architecture.”
  • Isozaki’s most famous works include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the inflatable Ark Nova concert hall in Japan.
  • Isozaki’s buildings are known for bending genres and styles.

At age 87, Japanese architect Arata Isozaki has left an indelible imprint on the world’s cities.

His recognisable designs include a 700-foot skyscraper in Milan, a contemporary art museum in Los Angeles, and an Olympic sports venue in Barcelona. The buildings span continents, genres, and time periods.

Now, that work has earned Isozaki the highest honour in his field: the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Isozaki was awarded the prize on March 5 for buildings that, in the words of the jury, “are constantly evolving, and always fresh in their approach.”


Read more:
30 architectural masterpieces everyone should see in their lifetime

Take a look at some of the most remarkable structures from his decades-long career.


The Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art in Japan was one of Isozaki’s first professional projects.

Kyodo News/Getty ImagesThe Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art is located in Kitakyushu, Japan.

The museum, which sits atop a hill, opened to the public in 1974. The horizontal columns at the top of the structure have been likened to a pair of binoculars.


The architect’s most famous work in the US is the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, which opened in 1983.

Ted Thai/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesA nighttime view of the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA.

Isozaki told the New York Times that he “sensed” that Los Angeles wanted to build something that rivaled the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York City. While the MoMa’s dark rooms depend on artificial light, LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art features natural light from glass skylights.


The Art Tower Mito was designed to resemble a helix.

Korall/Wikimedia CommonsThe Art Tower Mito is nearly 330 feet tall.

The tower opened in 1990 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Japanese city of Mito. It’s divided into three sections: a concert hall, theatre, and contemporary art gallery.


The Palau Sant Jordi hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

ShutterstockThe Palau Sant Jordi is Spain’s largest indoor arena.

The building held Olympic events like gymnastics, handball, and volleyball. It now serves as a sports arena and concert venue.


The Domus science museum in Galicia, Spain, has a massive slate wall shaped like a sail.

Xurxo Lobato/Cover/Getty ImagesThe Domus science museum was inaugurated in 1995.

Isozaki designed the museum alongside Spanish architect César Portela, under the original name Casa del Hombre, or “House of Man.” Isosaki recently told the New York Times that the tower is among his favourite designs.


The Nara Centennial Hall opened in in 1999. Its debut marked the 100th anniversary of ancient Japan’s first capitol.

ShutterstockThe insides of the concert venues in Nara Centennial Hall are made of glass panels.

Nara was the capitol of Japan more than 1,000 years ago, but it didn’t become an official city until about the turn of the 20th century. Isozaki divided the city’s commemorative building into a large concert hall, a smaller concert hall, and a gallery.


The Thessaloniki Concert Hall borders the Aegean Sea in Greece.

Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty ImagesThe second building, M2, of Thessaloniki Concert Hall.

The concert hall consists of two buildings. Isozaki designed the second structure, which is more contemporary and opened in 2000.


The Shenzhen Cultural Center in China is topped with glass pyramids.

ShutterstockThe Shenzhen Cultural Center opened in 2007.

The center includes a library and concert hall.


The Qatar National Convention Center was inspired by a holy Islamic tree.

Philip Lange/ShutterstockThe Qatar National Convention Center opened in 2011.

The branch-like columns on the building’s facade resemble the Sidrat al-Muntaha, a holy Islamic tree that represents perseverance. Inside the building is an enormous spider sculpture that’s meant to evoke the early stages of life.


The white and green panels on the D38 Office in Barcelona help reduce glare.

ShutterstockThe D38 Office building was completed in 2012.

The structure is part of a larger office development in an industrial area called Zona Franca. The floors in Isozaki’s building are shaped either as a ‘C’ or ‘L’.


Isozaki’s inflatable concert hall, Ark Nova, toured Japan in 2013.

The Asahi Shimbun/Getty ImagesIsozaki designed Ark Nova with Indian-born architect Anish Kapoor.

The structure visited areas that were afflicted by the2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which killed more than 15,000 people.


Inside the Ark Nova is a 500-seat performance venue made of stretchy plastic.

The Asahi Shimbun/Getty ImagesThe interior of the inflated Ark Nova concert venue.

The venue can be deflated to allow for easy transport.


The Allianz Tower in Milan is nicknamed Il Dritto, or “The Straight.”

ShutterstockThe Allianz Tower was completed in 2015.

At nearly 700 feet in height, the Allianz Tower is one of the tallest buildings in Italy. Isozaki designed the structure in tandem with Italian architect Andrea Maffei. Its facade was envisioned as a series of barrel-shaped modules.

Although the tower’s sleek glass panels call to mind some of Isozaki’s earlier works, their collective aesthetic is singular. For decades, Isozaki’s designs have not only straddled the lines between time periods, aesthetic styles, and different cultures – they have suggested that no such barriers exist at all.

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