Ito Toyo (Toyoo)

Ito Toyo (Toyoo)
After nearly four decades of work Ito Toyo (1941-present) has earned a cult following among architects around the world, although he is little known outside his home country, Japan. Through his strange and ethereal buildings, which range from modest houses for the urban recluse to a library whose arched forms have the delicacy of paper cutouts, he has created a body of work almost unmatched in its diverse originality. Over the past decade, as the popularity of architecture has boomed and many of his contemporaries have jetted around the globe piling up one commission after another, Mr. Ito has largely remained on the sidelines. He is rarely mentioned in conversations about semicelebrities like Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid or Jacques Herzog. He has repeatedly been passed over for the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor, in favor of designers with much thinner résumés. Even in his native country he is overshadowed by Ando Tadao, whose brooding concrete structures have become a cliché of contemporary Japanese architecture. Mr. Ito’s status may finally changed. In 2009, a stadium he designed for the World Games unveiled to a global audience in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Its pythonlike form should produce as much a stir, at least within architectural circles, as did the Bird’s Nest stadium by Mr. Herzog and Pierre de Meuron when it was unveiled at the Beijing Olympics.