ANDO, Tadao

ANDO, Tadao
(1941- )
   Born in Osaka, the contemporary Japanese architect Tadao Ando traveled widely and worked in a variety of diverse jobs before, with no formal training in architecture, he opened his firm Tadao Ando Architects and Associates in 1970. Since then, Ando has cultivated a style of construction using unfinished concrete to create highly abstract, geometric spaces. One of his earliest buildings, the Azuma House, built in Osaka in 1976, reveals a concrete slab façade with a door centered in the front of the spare, narrow structure. Inside, a courtyard connects the front building to a back structure, thereby integrating the courtyard into the living space of the house.
   Culturally responsive to the smaller, more enclosed spaces of traditional Japanese architecture, Ando's design for the Church of the Light in Ibarakishi, Osaka, built in 1989, also uses simple square spaces, but in this church a cross shape cut into the reinforced concrete wall allows two slits of light to enter the room, one horizontal and one diagonal. With no other decorative elements, the visitor must focus on these lines of light, which refer to the more universal religious symbolism of enlightenment and the divine presence. Zen philosophy informs Ando's contrast between the solidity of the concrete and the immaterial nature of the light, and visitors have noticed that his spare rooms provide a sense of peacefulness and serenity. Simple benches, made from scaffolding timber, are the only furnishings found in the chapel. Ando soon became known for his detailed crafts-manship and his focus on the natural surroundings of his buildings, together with a unique use of light and a weaving of geometrically arranged interior and exterior spaces to create a unified whole. In 1995, Ando won the Pritzer Architecture Prize.
   Ando's design for the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, which opened in 2002, demonstrates his ability to match his constructions to the surrounding nature. Here, this expansive public art museum responds to the flat, wide geography of this region of Texas with a broad, low building that has large tinted windows and a flat roof. The roof's wide, cantilevered concrete cornice deflects the bright sun off the sides of the building and conforms to the strong horizontality of the Midwestern land. Reflecting pools allow light to play off the building and provide a cool surface in this hot southern climate. Ando's very prolific career is proof that culturally sensitive concerns can be translated on an international level, while his melding of global and regional architecture continues to occupy the design principles of current architects who seek to integrate ever-changing aesthetic issues into their work.

Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. . 2008.

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