Toshiko Mori to Receive 2021 Isamu Noguchi Award

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

The Harvard GSD’s Toshiko Mori has been named one of two recipients of the 2021 Isamu Noguchi Award, presented annually by the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum. Mori will be honored alongside artist Shio Kusaka at the Noguchi Museum’s annual benefit on October 5. Now in its eighth year, the award is presented to individuals who share Isamu Noguchi’s spirit of innovation, global consciousness, and commitment to Eastern and Western cultural exchange. Previous honorees include Sir David Adjaye OBE, Naoto Fukasawa, and Lord Norman Foster.

“The Isamu Noguchi Award was created to recognize exceptional individuals whose creative practice shares a thoughtfulness and boundary-transcending point of view found in Isamu Noguchi’s work and extends his ideals into our own times,” says Noguchi Museum Director Brett Littman. “We are honored to present this year’s Award to artist Shio Kusaka and architect Toshiko Mori. Their very different work shares a profound sensitivity to nature, playful and clear-minded approaches to materials and function, and quiet reflectiveness, carrying forward and extending Noguchi’s principles.” Read about and view a photo essay from Mori’s Spring 2020 option studio, “Making Next to Forest.”

Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), a Japanese American artist and landscape architect whose career spanned six decades, was known especially for his sculptures and public art. He collaborated with the Herman Miller company on a series of mass-produced lamps and furniture items that are widely considered among the most influential works of modern furniture. Noguchi’s former studio building—located across the street from the museum and never before open for an event—will be the site of a reception at this year’s benefit ceremony.

At the GSD, Mori is the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture and was chair of the Department of Architecture from 2002 to 2008. She is principal of Toshiko Mori Architect (TMA), which she established in 1981 in New York City. Mori taught at the Cooper Union School of Architecture from 1983 until 1995, when she joined the GSD faculty with tenure. She has been a visiting faculty member at Columbia University and Yale University, where she was the Eero Saarinen Visiting Professor in 1992.

Mori has taught courses on the tectonics of textiles, materials and fabrication methods in architecture, structural innovations, and the role of architects as agents of change in a global context. TMA’s recent work includes master plans for the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch and the Buffalo Botanical Gardens; Thread: Artists’ Residency and Cultural Center in Sinthian, Senegal; Fass School and Teachers’ Residence in Fass, Senegal; and the expansion of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

TMA’s projects have won awards from Architizer, The Plan, and AIA, and have been internationally exhibited, including at the 2012, 2014, and 2018 Venice Architecture Biennales. The practice has been listed in Architectural Digest’s biennial AD100 multiple times, and in AN Interior’s Top 50 Architects. Recent publications include the Fass School and Teachers’ Residence in Architectural Record, the Mott Street Development in Architect’s Newspaper, and features in Architectural Digest for the Fass School, Treeline (a private art barn), and a beach house in Suffolk County, New York.

As a member and former chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Design, Mori has participated in sessions to discuss scarcity-driven design, the future of cities and urban information systems, design related to olfactory sensation and experience, and the role of the arts in improving communities. She has participated in international symposia and conferences, and in 2009, she established VisionArc, a think tank which connects local and global issues to mobilize design initiatives for a more sustainable future.