In 2010, Vanity Fair surveyed the world’s leading architects, critics, and deans of architecture schools, asking them what is the most significant architecture completed since 1980. The answers, based on 52 respondents were, understandably, varied. Most common were names like Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (28 votes), Renzo Piano’s Menil Collection (10 votes) and Norman Foster’s Hong Kong Shanghai Bank (7 votes).

But what we did was we put on our Japanese goggles and focused only on the Japanese architects that were named. The result is an up-close look at how Japanese architects are viewed around the world by their luminous contemporaries.

Mediatheque Building by Toyo Ito | Sendai, Japan (2001) – 8 votes

Photos by Kevin McKitrick | click to enlarge

Toyo Ito’s multi-purpose public structure (a library, art gallery, cinema, lecture theatre and cybercafé) received the most votes, including nods Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl and Stan Allen (Dean, Princeton University School of Architecture). Architects were presumably impressed by Ito’s forward-thinking ideas about how the building would become a “digital ecology” for users, as well as a series of technical advances that made the structure possible. This includes a support system of occupiable hollow tubes, as well as digital-ready media infrastructure.

Church of Light by Tadao Ando | Osaka, Japan (1989) – 5 votes

photos by flickr user buou

Japan’s celebrated master of minimal concrete clocks in at 2nd, even if you don’t count the vote he put in for himself! Located in a small residential suburb, the church is comprised of two modest buildings, arranged at an angle. There is certainly a sense of spirituality to the space where the outside world can be forgotten and the natural world emphasized vis-à-vis Ando’s manipulation of light.

Unfortunatly, those were the only 2 that received over 2 votes. Following, in no particular order, are other structures that received a single nod.

Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art by Arata Isozaki | Okayama, Japan

Nagi_MOCAimage courtesy City of Okayama

Multimedia Workshop by Kazuyo Sejima/SANAA | Ogaki, Japan

Multimedia Workshop kazuyo sejimaimage courtesy City of Gifu

House in a Plum Grove by Kazuyo Sejima/SANAA | Tokyo, Japan

house ina plum grove kazuyo sejimaphoto by Louise Grønlund

Spiral Building by Fumihiko Maki | Tokyo, Japan

480px-Spiral_Buildingimage courtesy wikimedia commons

Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography by Shin Takamatsu | Tottori, Japan

SONY DSCimage courtesy wikimedia commons

Emergency shelters by Shigeru Ban | various locations

shigeru ban emergency sheltersimage courtesy Shigeru Ban