Associate 2000-01

Botond Bognar


Beyond Modernism and Postmodernism--A Documentary on Contemporary Japanese Architecture

Ever since Japan’s reconstruction from the ravages of World War II, contemporary Japanese architecture and urbanism have time and again surprised their foreign counterparts with their rapid developments, large output, and too often unusual attributes. In the past few decades, we in the West have had to get accustomed to the astonishing capacity with which the Japanese began and continue to foster innovation and build the “unbuildable,” that is to say, execute projects that most anywhere else prove to be impossible to realize. Already familiar with the traditional architecture of the country, the world started to learn–and now also appreciate–the increasingly high-quality modern design, execution, and craftsmanship in Japan, while not always able to comprehend the specific forces or conditions that shape its architecture and cities today. Bognar has been researching Japanese architecture and urbanism since the early 1970s, particularly with regard to their developments in the rapidly changing social, economic, technological, and political landscape of Japan. After the publication of many books, articles, and papers, his present work within the Center for Advanced Study, entitled “Beyond Modernism and Postmodernism –A Documentary on Contemporary Japanese Architecture and Urbanism,” intends to document the course, special features, and present directions of this often highly futuristic architecture in the form of a three-part TV film that utilizes the latest multimedia in the process. Born in Budapest, Hungary, he was educated at the Budapest Technical University and the Graduate School of Architecture, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Before joining the faculty of the University of Illinois School of Architecture in 1981, he worked as an architectural designer and principal architect for several years in both Hungary and Japan. From 1974 to 1996, he also worked as a correspondent of the internationally renowned Japanese journal A+U, Architecture and Urbanism. In the meantime, he has been involved in architectural photography and developed a slide library of some 80,000 photos. As a scholar of both traditional and contemporary Japanese architecture and urbanism, he lectured in numerous countries and universities including Columbia University, NY; UCLA; UC Berkeley; Tokyo University and Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan; Brown University, Providence, RI; Universities of Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Japan Institute of Architects, Tokyo; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; McGill University, Montreal and Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada; Graham Foundation, Chicago; Washington University, St. Louis; University of Cincinnati, OH; Universities of Brussels, Gent, Liege, Antwerp in Belgium; University of Oulu, Finland, and the Architectur Zentrum Wien, Vienna, Austria. He is the recipient of a Mombusho Scholarship, Graham Foundation Fellowship, William and Flora Hewlett Fellowship, the title of “University Scholar” at the University of Illinois, Social Science Research Council Fellowship, Endowed Chair and Visiting Professor, RCAST of Tokyo University; Asian Cultural Council Fellowship, two “Excellence in Teaching” Awards, Union Arts and Culture Foundation of Japan Fellowship, and Visiting Professor, University of Oulu, Finland. He is the author and/or editor of several books, chapters to books, essays, articles including Japanese Architecture of Today (Budapest, 1979); Contemporary Japanese Architecture: Its Development and Challenge (New York, 1985); (Ed.) Japanese Architecture, AD Profile 73 (London, 1988); (Co-author) NIKKEN SEKKEI–Building Modern Japan 1900-1990 (New York, 1991); (Ed.) Japanese Architecture II, AD Profile 99 (London, 1992); The New Japanese Architecture (New York, 1990); The Japan Guide (New York, 1995); (Ed.) Minoru Takeyama (London, 1995); Togo Murano: Master Architect of Japan (New York, 1996), winner of a 1996 AIA International Book Award; World Cities: TOKYO (London, 1997); and (Ed.) Japan: At the Cutting Edge, NA #3 (London, 1999). His forthcoming publications include the books Nikken Sekkei 1900-2000: Building Future Japan (New York, 2000) and Between Reality and Fiction: The Architecture of Hiroshi Hara (London, 2000).