Photos by Kevin McKitrick | click to enlarge

The big news over the weekend was that the Pritzker Architecture Prize, after being awarded to SANAA in 2010, returned once again to Japan as Toyo Ito was awarded his profession’s top honor. In speaking to the committee, Ito said that the Sendai Mediatheque, completed in 2001, was one of the high points of his career. In fact, a 2010 survey of the world’s top architects indicated that the Sendai Mediatheque was Japan’s most significant work of architecture.

The Mediatheque is a multi-purpose public structure (a library, art gallery, cinema, lecture theatre and cybercafé) that was intended to become a “digital ecology” for users. Ito goes on: “While the building principally functions as a library and art gallery, the administration has actively worked to relax divisions between diverse programs, removing fixed barriers between various media to progressively evoke an image of how cultural facilities should be from now on.”

The Mediatheque also passed one of architecture’s most trying tests – an earthquake. And not just any earthquake. The most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan. Here’s a video that was recorded from inside the Mediatheque during the earthquake in 2011.