How Did Tadao Ando Become Hollywood’s Favorite Starchitect?


Beyoncé and Jay-Z bought one for a California record-breaking $200 million in 2023. Tom Ford commissioned another on a ranch in remote New Mexico in 2001; Kim Kardashian has one on the way near Palm Springs. Kanye West owned, gutted, and is currently attempting to dump his with the help of Selling Sunset realtor Jason Oppenheim for $53 million. Private homes by Tadao Ando, the 82-year-old Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect known for his minimalist designs in sleek architectural concrete, have become an object of desire for many of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities.

In a design world where maximalism seems to have a firm grasp over trends, it could be surprising that America’s most famous tastemakers are seeking Ando’s monumental minimalism. However, what the Osaka-based talent achieves in residential design is a welcome antithesis for those looking for a very private worldly retreat. Whether or not these stars were the patrons of their Ando-conceived paradises, his designs are in high demand—and his process, precise construction requirements, and price point are certainly helping keep them that way.

According to the jury that awarded Ando the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 1995, the self-taught architect creates “microcosms for the individual with ever changing patterns of light.” Constructed with impenetrable reinforced concrete walls strategically punctured by breaks or windows, his buildings’ interiors have a relationship with their surroundings specified by the form of their architecture, creating spaces that feel peacefully inward-facing and often, meditative. His material requires near perfect on-site construction to achieve the signature circular holes made by his formwork in otherwise “smooth-as-silk” panels, as the Pritzker jury once described them. This process, reveals New York developer Amit Khurana, can be quite costly.

While Ando’s poetically simple geometries have been applied to a range of architectural typologies, from churches to museums, his residential work is certainly his most exclusive—available only to those who can secure an elusive meeting with Ando and pay his hefty design fees. When Khurana wanted to commission Ando for 152 Elizabeth, the New York condominium building in Nolita that is still the architect’s only multifamily project in the US, he was informed, after several calls to Ando’s Japanese office, that he would be required to visit Osaka to discuss the project in person. He did so, with a gift in hand (knowing Ando had been a boxer early in his life, Khurana chose a book on Muhammad Ali.) On the second day with the architect, “he sketched the building on the spot,” Khurana says.

In April 2023, Kardashian posted a seemingly similar process for the design of her future Ando house in La Quinta, California, where her mother, Kris Jenner, and sisters Kourtney Kardashian and Kylie Jenner also own property. There are fewer than 20 private residences by the architect in the US.

Image may contain Grass Plant Airport and Outdoors

A concrete, glass, and steel home designed by Tadao Ando in South Korea in the architect’s signature style.

Photo: Lingxiao Xie / Getty Images





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