Past Event

Collins/Kaufmann Forum: Thomas Daniell, "The Temple of Atomic Catastrophes"

November 30, 2020
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
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Zoom Webinar
The Temple of Atomic Catastrophes

Kyoto-born architect Sei’ichi Shirai (1905–83) is perhaps best known for his Temple of Atomic Catastrophes, first published in 1955. In part a tacit counterproposal to Kenzo Tange’s Hiroshima Peace Museum, completed the same year, Shirai’s design was also an unsolicited response to a call by artists Iri and Toshi Maruki for a venue to display a series of huge paintings they titled The Hiroshima Panels. The Temple of Atomic Catastrophes was never built, but it contributed to Shirai almost becoming the first Japanese Pritzker Prize laureate. Selected by the jury to be awarded the 1984 prize, Shirai unfortunately died before the official announcement, and a few years later Kenzo Tange became the first Japanese Pritzker. If Shirai had lived a little longer, international perceptions of modern Japanese architecture may have been profoundly different. This talk will examine Shirai’s background, the sources of his design philosophy and motifs, and his ongoing influence on contemporary Japanese architecture.