Toshiko Mori
Toshiko Mori Architect


The proposed Otaniemi central campus building designed for Aalto University in Finland is conceived as a series of individual wings, with two wings forming a “V”-shaped building and courtyard. The V-shaped courtyard is a unique urban concept because it is open-ended, in this case transitioning gradually from public to academic space. When these “V’s” come together, the configuration becomes a star-shaped building we call the “Asterisk”. Each courtyard addresses different contexts of the site, providing a framework which adds density and urbanity to the suburban landscape. Within the existing context of rectilinear buildings, the Asterisk will identify the point of conversion indicating the forces of flow of human interaction and information. The Asterisk introduces a more organic geometry that can be imbedded within campus planning and can encourage more complex and resilient network patterns.

This geometry is inspired by walking patterns within a typical university quadrangle. The Asterisk shape creates diagonal paths – shortcuts – and generates points of intersection as well as points of social encounter. In other words, the building follows the patterns of social networks instead of the confines of rigid academic compartments. One knowledge base will be constantly challenged by another, renewing and promoting a synthetic approach to education where students are allowed to concentrate on their field of study yet test their work in a larger framework.

About The Designer

Toshiko Mori is the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the principal of Toshiko Mori Architect, PLLC. She is the founder of VisionArc, a think-tank promoting global dialogue for a sustainable future and one of the founders of Paracoustica, a nonprofit promoting music in underserved communities.

Her firm’s recent work includes: the Cambridge Headquarters for the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research; the School of Environmental Research & Technology for Brown University; The Woodner Apartments, new roof canopies for the Brooklyn Children’s Museum; Thread, a Cultural Center and Artists’ Residences in Rural Senegal; and new canopies for the #7 Subway line for the Hudson Park and Boulevard in New York City. Her firm is currently engaged in master plans for the Buffalo Botanical Gardens and the Brooklyn Public Library. Her firm’s projects have been internationally exhibited, which includes the 2012 and 2014 Venice Architecture Biennales. Last year she was recognized as one of Architecture Digest’s AD 100

Her work is published internationally; most recently by the PLAN, Architectural Record, Forbes Japan, Elle Japan, Casa Brutus, and Nikkei BP. She recently lectured at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Katonah Museum of Art, and at the 21st Century Museum in Kanazawa Japan. At the Museum, she participated in a conference on the topic of saving Modernist Architecture in Japan.

She has been honored with numerous AIA NY Awards, the Academy Award in Architecture, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and with the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter Medal of Honor, and the inaugural John Hejduk Award, from Cooper Union. She regularly contributes to books and publications; she is the editor of Immaterial / Ultramaterial, the author of her monograph Toshiko Mori Architect, and is currently a regular contributor to Japan Architect. She is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities.