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SANAA is an architectural firm that combines the creative talents of Pritzker Prize winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa and their staff of 25 in Tokyo, Japan. In the words of the Pritzker jury, “The buildings by Sejima and Nishizawa seem deceptively simple. The architects hold a vision of a building as a seamless whole, where the physical presence retreats and forms a sensuous background for people, objects, activities, and landscapes.”
Grace Farms Foundation chose SANAA for this project, shortly before the Pritzker Prize announcement, because their vision of architecture is closely aligned with the purposes of Grace Farms. Their fluid integration of inside and outside space produces environments which are rich in social and spiritual potential. The River building was constructed on a sliver of the 80-acre Grace Farms property and is the firm’s first project completed in the United States following the firm’s receipt of the Pritzker Prize.
“The buildings, existing and new, have the possibility to become a vibrant intersection of different goals within the community.”
Statement of Intentions
SANAA believes that one of the most interesting and enticing aspects of this project is an opportunity to foster a sense of community and place. We are eager to create a place that invites people from all walks of life into a space of comfort. We wish to open the boundaries between interior and exterior because the site and nature facilitate an understanding of an individual’s place in the cosmos. It can be at once majestic with gardens, and long views, while at the same time very personal with shelter and places for meditation.
We designed a long roof following the topography, which floats on the site centrally. Winding and crossing the site freely, this structure creates many covered buffer spaces across the expansive property while also forming courtyards. Interior programs are organized and wrapped into glass volumes according to their character and usage under the roof. These glass volumes are, at times, located close to one another while others are further apart, creating different views and atmospheres. For example, from one room, one may see the large pond in the distance and from another, one can overlook the wetland which stretches into the landscape below. This singular roof also gives way to a variety of ambience such as a lively room facing a lively courtyard and a calm space with sunlight trickling through the foliage of the trees.
With the rich property and natural environment, we hope to make the architecture become part of the landscape without feeling strongly like a building. We hope that visitors will enjoy the beautiful and changing seasons through the spaces and experience created by the facility.
SANAA Architects’ Awards and Accomplishments:
Recipient of 1992 Japan Young Architect of the Year, Gold Lion, Venice Biennale, Brunner Memorial Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Curator/Director of 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, People meet in architecture (Kazuyo Sejima) Visiting Professors at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, Exhibitions at MoMA, Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark. Named the 2010 Pritzker Prize Laureates.
The Pritzker Architecture Prize, the profession’s most prestigious award, has been given to Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, partners in the Tokyo–based architecture firm SANAA. In a citation that lauded the pair for their ability to create buildings where the “physical presence retreats and forms a sensuous background for people, objects, activities, and landscapes,” the jury noted that their architecture stands “in direct contrast with the bombastic and rhetorical.”
Projects by SANAA Architects:
Louvre Lens Museum, France
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Rolex Learning Center, Switzerland
New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2009, United Kingdom
Glass Pavilion at The Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio