The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
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September 15, 2021 7:16 AM EDT

Kengo Kuma champions an ideal of “losing architecture”—intricate buildings that disappear into their environs—although it’s hard to miss the new National Stadium in Japan when walking through the heart of Tokyo. His stylistic fingerprints can be seen throughout the elaborate project, designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates in collaboration with two other firms for this year’s Olympic Games. Greenery dots the facade of the oval-shaped structure, the centerpiece of this year’s Games, allowing a series of wooden eaves—a favored material for Kuma, procured from prefectures across Japan—to better blend in with the surrounding garden. The eaves slant upward to gently welcome visitors inside, where tens of thousands of forest-toned seats await. Such public projects—which require architects to accept certain conditions and demands, and limit their freedom of expression—can nonetheless gain natural sympathy and create a welcome new space for communities.

Hosaka is director of the Shiga Museum of Art and curator of “Kuma Kengo: Five Purr-fect Points for a New Public Space” at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

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