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Paul Tange

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Genius is in the Genes

Interview with Tange Associates President Paul Noritaka Tange


SEPTEMBER 4, 2013 marked 100 years since the birth of one of the most influential architects of the 20 century – Pritzker Prize winning Japanese architect Kenzo Tange (1913 - 2005). Many of Tokyo’s most renowned landmarks are Kenzo Tange’s structures, including the Tokyo City Hall Complex (Tocho); the National Gymnasium designed for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics; Shinjuku Park Tower / Park Hyatt Tokyo; Akasaka Prince Hotel, as well as dozens of celebrated structures across Japan and the world. A professor of architecture at Japan’s prestigious University of Tokyo, Kenzo Tange mentored many of Japan’s most acclaimed architects including Kisho Kurokawa, Arata Isozaki, Yoshio Taniguchi and Fumihiko Maki.

Kenzo Tange passed away on March 22, 2005 at the age of 91, but not before passing the baton to his son Paul Noritaka Tange. Paul earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University (1981) and master’s in architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (1985), before completing a research term with the Ministry of Construction. He then joined Kenzo Tange Associates, where he was promoted to Executive Vice President in 1988 and President in 1996. In 2003 the father and son duo renamed the company Tange Associates, with Paul Tange as its first president.

Paul Tange had significant success heading up the architectural design of complex projects such as the Tokyo Dome Hotel (2000) despite pressure from critics of neighboring goliath structure, the Tokyo Dome. In order to approve and complete the Tokyo Dome Hotel project Tange’s architects had to make considerable adjustments, including having to rotate the entire hotel to make it appear thinner.

In 2005, after the passing of Kenzo Tange, the world of architecture waited with great anticipation to see whether Paul Tange possessed his father’s artistic genius. The answer came in 2008 when, under Paul Tange’s direction, Tange Associates unveiled one of Tokyo’s most remarkable structures and the world’s second tallest educational building: the MODE GAKUEN Cocoon Tower. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie spoke with Paul Tange.

TJ: I understand you earned your bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and master’s in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. How long were you in the Boston area?
TANGE: I was there for seven and a half years.

TJ: How is it living in Tokyo now?
TANGE: It’s a good time to be in Tokyo. Mr. Abe’s new economic policies seem to be working and the 2020 Olympics will help to make for an even better situation for our economy. It looks like we may be finally coming back into the global picture.

TJ: How is the field of architecture doing in Japan?
TANGE: Well, I think for some time Japanese architecture has been quite successful compared to other Japanese industries. It has gained global recognition and many Japanese architects have done work abroad. I believe my father was one of the first to begin doing work abroad in the 1960s. If I recall correctly, his first foreign project was the master plan of the city of Skopje in the former Yugoslavia. Skopje is now the capital of Macedonia. The city was destroyed by an earthquake and the United Nations asked my father to plan a new city. I believe last year was the 50th anniversary of that devastation and we went back to Skopje where we reconnected. I was very honored to be invited back on behalf of the Tanges after 50 years. So that was my father’s first project abroad. Many of his students followed him in the seventies and eighties.

TJ: Your father had many renowned students and disciples including the late architect Dr. Kisho Kurokawa, who did several projects abroad including the Kuala Lumpur Airport, the new wing of the Van Gogh Museum and the master plan for the capital city of Kazakhstan. He taught and mentored so many great architects.
TANGE: Yes, of course, Mr. Kurokawa, Mr. Isozaki, Mr. Taniguchi and many others. They worked for my father in the seventies and eighties and many graduates of Tange Kenkyushitsu have become leaders in the architectural world. So I believe it was a very rewarding thing for my father to be a professor.

TJ: Tell me about the MODE GAKUEN Cocoon Tower in Shinjuku. It’s fantastic!
TANGE: Thank you. It was quite an exciting project for us because it was a very rare situation where the client came without many restrictions. Their one and only requirement was they wanted to see architecture which they had never seen before.

TJ: There must have been a lot of architects vying for this project given the freedom granted by the client.
TANGE: I believe there were more than 200 entries and we were very fortunate to be awarded first prize and selected for the project.

Toyo Ito

Written by  |  Published in Architecture

Architect Toyo Ito Presented with the 2013 Pritzker

Architecture Prize

ON May 29, 2013, Tom Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, presented Toyo Ito with the Pritzker Architecture Prize medallion for 2013 and a $100,000 grant. In his acceptance speech, Architect Toyo Ito said, “This is the best day of my architectural life so far!” Mr. Ito was the 38th recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which has been sponsored by The Hyatt Foundation since its founding in 1979. A black-tie audience of more than 300 guests, including previous prize laureates, witnessed the ceremony in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. tj

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