About the Architects and SANAA

Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, are the founding partners of the firm SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) in 1995. The structures designed by them portrayed minimalism and simplicity along with a touch of modernism and a sense of fluidity in their works and were admired by all. They designed various creative structures in different countries such as Zollverein School of Management and Design in Germany, Grace Farms in New Canaan, and many more structures. They were awarded the Pritzker Prize in the year 2010 and are the second partnered firm to have achieved the honorable award.  

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the architects_©https://archinect.com/news/bustler/8899/sanaa-founders-kazuyo-sejima-and-ryue-nishizawa-honored-as-2022-praemium-imperiale-award-laureates

Before SANAA was founded, Sejima had completed her master’s degree in architecture from Japan Women’s University and had interned with architect Toyo Ito before starting her firm, Kazuyo Sejima and Associates. Nishizawa who had also worked for Ito was later hired by Sejima, the firm gradually earned a reputation. Later, Nishizawa completed his master’s degree in architecture from Yokohama National University and opened up his firm two years after the founding of SANAA. Both architects have maintained their individual offices taking up small scale projects. 

A little bit of history: New Art Museum, New York

The New Art Museum in New York was one of the modern and simplistic works designed by SANAA. The New Art Museum was the idea of the founding director Maria Tucker. Being a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art from the year 1967 to 1976, she observed the new works by artists were not easily blended into the conventional exhibition of the traditional pieces of the art collection at the museum. 

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Maria Tucker_ ©https://www.newmuseum.org/history

Interested in bringing the older methods of showcasing and studying the art of the younger talented artists to the older methods of institutions, she dreamt of one devoted to presenting and interpreting their contemporary works. She founded the New Art Museum officially on January 1, 1977, and was the first museum in New York that was completely committed to contemporary artworks. The museum presented the artworks of living artists who have not yet been recognized and accepted for their works by the public. Until the year 1999, the museum was in temporary spaces for a short period. In the year 1999, the then director of the museum, Lisa Phillips planned to construct a new building and The New Art Museum came up designed by SANAA.

Design Style and Material: The New Art Museum

The simplicity and modernism of the SANAA architecture can be seen in this structure in Manhattan. The design style of the building is of levels of boxes shifting from their place so that all the floors get natural lighting combined with artificial lighting. The views of the cityscape and extra terrace space for all the floors are also provided due to the movement of boxes. The repetition of boxes is another style incorporated into this building. The structure stands in such a way that it is a contemporary landmark in the city and makes people wonder and gaze at it. The simple color of white incorporated on its exterior is also an eye-opener in the city.

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The New Art Museum_©https://www.cntraveler.com/activities/new-york/the-new-museum

Diverse functions are going on in this structure. This structure has stacks of seven boxes (floors), and the circulation pattern was designed per the stacking of each level. The first four floors of the museum consist of public galleries to exhibit works of artists. There is an auditorium in the basement and an education center on the fifth floor. The sixth floor consists of offices and the seventh floor has a multi-purpose room. The museum is open for all to immerse themselves in the world of art.

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aluminium mesh_ ©https://www.arch2o.com/new-art-museum-sanaa/

The aluminum mesh wrapped around the white façade of the structure hides the windows and doors of the building hence making the building seem like it has no windows. The mesh also creates different lighting effects on the building as well as inside the building. 

The artificial lighting inside the museum having white surfaces and ceiling creates an aura of lightness. The steel structure of the walls is the major support of the building, setting them free from any column. The white surfaces project the artworks exhibited and give a free-flowing space in the eye of a commoner.

Spacious inside the building_  ©https://divisare.com/projects/289283-sanaa-kazuyo-sejima-ryue-nishizawa-dean-kaufman-new-art-museum


Both the architects of SANAA have created a special structure in a manner that architecture does not overpower art. The authentic and traditional style of their minimal and simplistic method is shown in the museum as well. The museum complements the style of buildings in Manhattan. The play of color and height of each floor creates the illusion of a spacious feel complimenting each other. The works of art are highlighted in the museum which was the ultimate goal of the structure. The architects have yet again proven their design skills in creating a glorious structure in their vision!


  • https://archinect.com/news/bustler/8899/sanaa-founders-kazuyo-sejima-and-ryue-nishizawa-honored-as-2022-praemium-imperiale-award-laureates
  • https://www.newmuseum.org/history
  • https://www.architecturalrecord.com/articles/11996-new-museum-of-contemporary-art-by-sanaa
  • https://www.arch2o.com/new-art-museum-sanaa/
  • https://divisare.com/projects/289283-sanaa-kazuyo-sejima-ryue-nishizawa-dean-kaufman-new-art-museum
  • ✅ New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York – Data, Photos & Plans (2020) WikiArquitectura. Available at: https://en.wikiarquitectura.com/building/new-museum-of-contemporary-art-in-new-york/ (Accessed: October 31, 2022). 
  • New Art, new ideas (no date) About :: New Museum. kettle. Available at: https://www.newmuseum.org/about (Accessed: October 31, 2022). 
  • Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (no date) Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Kazuyo-Sejima-and-Ryue-Nishizawa#ref1101396 (Accessed: October 31, 2022). 

Hello, this is Shazia Haris an aspiring architectural writer. Her passion for writing has led her to RTF. She is grateful to have made it here and is eager to kick-start a new path in writing. She looks forward to being a trailblazer.