Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, whose recent envelop-pushing feats include a Serpentine Pavilion (described as "a cloud of sticks") and a bus stop deemed too dangerous to function, has been conferred a "2014 Innovator Award" by the Wall Street Journal. On that account, the Journal ran a meaty profile of the architect yesterday, dissecting his noteworthy projects, old and new, and how they've made him "something of a hero" in the field. Below, some of the most enlightening tidbits.
8. Fujmoto's been commissioned to design a house on a tricky lot that overlooks the Hollywood sign in L.A. His tunnel-like proposal may be reviewed by a design board this month.
7. He originally studied to become a physicist like Albert Einstein, but eventually graduated with an architecture degree, figuring that modernist architects like Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier were as brilliant as any scientist.
6. Soujimoto avoided working for an established firm after graduation, because he was afraid his ideas would be "watered down."
5. His first big break was designing a children's psychiatric rehabilitation center, which was a cluster of white cubes.
4. His fascination with merging architecture and nature (take his plans for aswanky pile of sticks in Barcelona or a futuristic tree tower in France) comes from his experience moving from rural Hokkaido to the man-made jungle of Tokyo. He told WSJ, "The complexity and richness of the forest, where I grew up, is a very big starting point for me. Now I'm based in Tokyo, and Tokyo itself is like a forest—an organic order in an artificial situation."
3. He sees Toyo Ito as "a father figure" and wears the same kind of metal-framed glasses from the Japanese brand 999.9 as Ito does.
2. Despite international acclaim, Fujimoto isn't bringing home the big bucks. He wears jeans and a t-shirt on most days. His office, a former workers' dorm, is "almost shabby" according to the WSJ. Interns work 14 or more hours a day and are generally unpaid.
1. He's working with the government of Taiwan on plans to build a 1,000-foot tower that'll essentially be a scaled-up version of his Serpentine Pavilion.