With over 200 archival holdings, the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) Collection in Montreal has grown over the years with works contributed by international architects, historians, and critics that document the history, culture, and production of architectural ideas. On December 6th, the CCA announced that Toyo Ito will join their ranks with the Japanese architect’s donation of the work produced by his Tokyo-based firm between 1971 and 1995.
Founded as a new type of cultural institution by Phyllis Lambert in 1979, the CCA is currently directed by Giovanna Borasi and steered by the CCA Board of Trustees. An international research institution and museum premised on the belief that architecture is a public concern, the CCA produces both exhibitions and publications, develops and shares its collection as a resource for research, offers public programs, and hosts activities that explore how architecture shapes—and might reshape—contemporary life.
According to 82-year-old Ito, his decision was prompted by the CCA’s wide-ranging program and focus on sharing its content. “I received requests from many Japanese architects and researchers, asking if it would be possible to keep these archives in Japan,” he says. “However, I have the confidence that the CCA will offer unparalleled accessibility for future researchers from around the world to study my works.”
Born in 1941 in Gyeongseong (now Seoul), Korea, Ito graduated from the University of Tokyo, then worked—alongside Itsuko Hasegawa, for Kiyonori Kikutake—as a central figure in the Metabolist movement. He founded his studio Urban Robot in 1971 in Tokyo, subsequently renaming it Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects. He was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2013.
More recently known for visible public and higher-education projects, such as the National Taiwan University College of Social Sciences in Taipei and Gifu Media Cosmos in Japan and Nanyang Technological University Business School in Singapore, Ito’s early career was most notable for the design of private houses that expressed aspects of urban life in Japan. His earliest conceptual contributions were made through projects of this scale, such as White U (1976), a house the architect designed for his sister and her children. Known for its lightness and openness, it is an icon of experimental residential architecture in Japan. Ito’s generous gift to the architectural community of Canada and the world also includes his first design (1971), the Aluminum House, and the House at Koganei (1979).
The CCA aims to facilitate access to Ito’s archives as promptly as possible after their arrival in coming weeks. In addition, collections from several other notable architects are due to join them soon—further expanding the potential for new relationships, explorations, readings, and discussions. These include the works of Bernard Tschumi, Agrest & Gandelsonas, and Studio Works.