10 Innovative Architects to Watch

Junya Ishigami
Architect Junya Ishigami poses at an exhibition in Tokyo on March 21, 2012.
Architect Junya Ishigami poses at an exhibition in Tokyo on March 21, 2012.
Koki Nagahama/Entertainment/Getty Images

Junya Ishigami, a Japanese architect, got his start with the firm SANAA, a groundbreaking and award-winning group of architects, before striking out on his own in 2004. It didn't take long for Ishigami to begin making headlines of his own. Wallpaper Magazine called him "one of the most controversial architects to come out Japan -- or anywhere." Why is he so controversial? Ishigami does a remarkable job of blurring the line between architecture and art, becoming famous first for installations like "Balloon," a huge aluminum structure filled with helium that was part of an art exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.

His experimental architecture isn't just limited to exhibitions, however. In 2007, he designed a glass building for the Kanagawa Institute of Technology. The walls are entirely glass from corner to corner, supported by steel pillars throughout the inside, with a simple flat roof. The pillars help define the space and create natural groupings to display art projects. Ishigami also designed a clothing boutique in New York City that was pie-shaped with huge windows. He does not draw a distinction between projects like these buildings and the installation called "Architecture As Air" that exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery at Kensington Gardens in London. A curved line of 53 carbon-fiber columns appear to be suspended in air, but are actually held up by transparent beams.