Jindong New District Architecture Park, Jinhua City, China, 2004–06

Toshiko Mori Architect

Location: New York, New York
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As an architect and chair of the School of Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Toshiko Mori has sought to reestablish the architect’s direct involvement in the study of material properties and research into fabrication processes. By practicing what she preaches and teaches, Mori has created a diverse group of exemplary works since opening Toshiko Mori Architect (TMA) in 1981. From exhibition installations—such as Josef and Anni Albers: Designs for Living and Extreme Textiles: Designing for High Performance at Cooper-Hewitt—and storefronts to residences and institutions in the United States and abroad, TMA integrates new and traditional materials and techniques into extraordinarily varied architectural contexts.

At Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House, the Visitors’ Center, designed by TMA, is at once respectful to Wright’s masterpiece and sufficiently assertive to overcome its off-street location. Its design inverts Wright’s ground-hugging, masonry construction house into a transparent and uplifting glass box. It ultimately reflects TMA’s interpretation of Wright’s “organic architecture” as “an integral architecture that embraces technological advancements in materials, mechanical and structural systems for sustainability, together with expressive intentions that inspire the human spirit.” TMA’s Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems, an elegant, minimal 80,000-square-foot space for laboratories, classrooms, and offices, further tests these ideas by incorporating sustainable building concepts such as strategic building disposition, high-performance glazing and insulation, brown water collection and usage, hydronic heating and cooling system, and energy-efficient airflow. The transparent south façade opens up to the surrounding community, visually communicating the research taking place within the laboratories.

In the Newspaper Café, one of sixteen new structures designed by international architects for an architecture park in Jinhua City, China, TMA created a vertical reading room offering hundreds of daily newspapers printed in China. The structure is a lesson in restraint and vibrancy, singular subject matter and infinite variety—as the newspapers change daily, so does the architecture.