In honor of Fumihiko Maki

Post Thumbnail

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts viewed from the Yerba Buena Gardens. Courtesy of Maki and Associates.

YBCA mourns the loss of esteemed Japanese architect, Pritzker Prize and AIA Gold Medal laureate Fumihiko Maki, who passed away at his Tokyo home on June 6, 2024 at the age of 95.  Maki led the design of our building at 701 Mission Street in association with local architect RMW. The project was completed in 1993 as part of a burgeoning downtown cultural center in combination with the Blue Shield of California Theater, designed by the Polshek Partnership, now called ENNEAD.

The Pritzker Foundation described his impact saying, “celebrated for his modernist approach, Maki was responsible for significant works, including the 4 World Trade Center, a skyscraper at the site of the former World Trade Center in New York…. His influence in inventing a unique modernist style of Japanese origin cannot be underscored.”

He was renowned for his use and skill in molding the interplay of light and shadow, as well as his focus on humanism in modern architecture. Maki was considered both visionary and an unparalleled and principled collaborator by all who worked with him. He was also an extraordinary mentor and teacher, both in Japan and throughout this country. Having attended Cranbrook and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, he returned to teach design studios there and at many other institutions, where his influence was singular and powerful, given his quiet, yet powerful philosophy toward design.

Maki described his own ethos in a way that has impacted YBCA throughout its 30 year history: “It is the responsibility of the architect to leave behind buildings that are assets to culture. His goal was not to make his buildings beautiful–an elusive quality he said–but to delight their users, as reported by The New York Times, in 2010. This gentle giant of modern architecture has left an indelible mark on our community and we honor his passing.