Architect: Shigeru Ban

Architect Shigeru Ban in Aspen. Photo: Karl Wolfgang.

The recip­i­ent of numer­ous awards for his con­tri­bu­tions to archi­tec­ture and design, Shigeru Ban (b. 1957) is widely respected for his inno­v­a­tive approaches to envi­ron­men­tally sound archi­tec­ture and for his devo­tion to human­i­tar­ian efforts in the wake of dev­as­tat­ing nat­ural and man­made disasters.

Ban’s nearly 50 awards include a Royal Institute of British Architects Award for his Centre Pompidou-Metz museum in Metz, France (2012); the Auguste Perret Prize of the International Union of Architects (2011); and the Architecture Institute of Japan’s Grand Prize (2009) for his Nicolas G. Hayek Center, the new head­quar­ter build­ing for Swatch Group Japan. In 2010 he was awarded mem­ber­ship into France’s Order of Arts and Letters, fol­lowed by invi­ta­tion to the National Order of Merit in 2011. Ban has received sev­eral hon­orary degrees and fel­low­ships, includ­ing Doctorates at Amherst College and the Technical University of Munich and fel­low­ships from The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and The American Institute of Architects. In 2001 Time mag­a­zine named him “Innovator of the Year.”

Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France, 2010. Image cour­tesy Shigeru Ban Architects.

Ban’s relief projects include hous­ing solu­tions for res­i­dents of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and tem­po­rary hous­ing for vic­tims of the 2011 earth­quake and tsunami in Japan. Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA) is cur­rently work­ing on a card­board cathe­dral project for the City of Christchurch fol­low­ing the February 2011 earth­quake in New Zealand. Ban col­lab­o­rated with pro­fes­sors and stu­dents in the Dominican Republic to build 100 shel­ters made of paper tubes and local mate­ri­als for vic­tims of the 7.0-magnitude earth­quake that struck near the Haitian cap­i­tal of Port-au-Prince in January 2010. Ban offered his ser­vices to the United Nations in aid of the vic­tims of the 1999 civil war in Rwanda, and he designed and imple­mented tem­po­rary shel­ters for vic­tims of Kobe, Japan’s 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.

Hualin Temporary Elementary School (2008), built in response to the earth­quake that struck Sichuan province, China, in May 2008. Image cour­tesy Shigeru Ban Architects.

Referring to Ban as “The Accidental Environmentalist,” New York Times chief art critic and colum­nist Michael Kimmelman described him as “an heir to Buckminster Fuller and Oscar Niemeyer, to Japanese tra­di­tional archi­tec­ture and to Alvar Aalto.” “He is an old-school Modernist with a poet’s touch,” Kimmelman added, “and an engineer’s inven­tive­ness.” The new Aspen Art Museum will be SBA’s first US per­ma­nent museum to be con­structed. Regarding his design for the new build­ing, Ban explains: “In any design I always strive for a uni­fied rela­tion­ship between the struc­ture and its sur­round­ings. The design for the new AAM is a very excit­ing oppor­tu­nity to cre­ate a har­mony between Aspen’s exist­ing archi­tec­ture and the sur­round­ing beauty of the nat­ural landscape.”

Ban attended the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and later the Cooper Union School of Architecture. In 1985, he opened Shigeru Ban Architects.

Visit the Shigeru Ban Architects website.



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