Toshiko Mori

Brooklyn library

Toshiko Mori is the founder and principal of Toshiko Mori Architect, and founder of VisionArc, a think-tank promoting global dialogue for a sustainable future. She is the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and was the Chair of the Department of Architecture from 2002 to 2008. Through nearly four decades of influential projects, her practice has emphasized a sensitivity to ecology and history, innovative and intelligent use of materials and light, and functionality in the most expansive sense. Her diverse body of work includes designing for clients such as Commes des Garçons and Issey Miyake, to exhibition designs for the Museum of Modern Art and Cooper Hewitt, to numerous residential, cultural, and civic projects around the globe.

Toshiko Mori
Photo by Ralph Gibson

Mori, who has won numerous awards including the Academy Award in Architecture, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the AIA New York Chapter Medal of Honor, among many others, has taken on projects around the world. Her firm’s recent work includes master plans for the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch; Thread, a cultural center and artists’ residences in Senegal; the Fass School and Teachers’ Residence in Senegal; and the Brown University Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. This month, she will be awarded the Philip Hanson Hiss Award, which recognizes Mori for the excellence of her architectural oeuvre, including her restoration projects, among them the addition of two pavilions to the Paul Rudolph-designed Burkhardt-Cohen House property in Sarasota, Florida.

Mori is known for integrating the surrounding environment in her designs, her careful selection of materials, and her advocacy and activism for sustainability in architecture. Her values as a designer align with those of the celebrated sculptor Isamu Noguchi with whom she interned while an architecture student at The Cooper Union. Forty years later, Mori was awarded the prestigious Isamu Noguchi Award for her lifetime commitment to values prized by Noguchi. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2016, and was elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design in 2020.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.