Ito's Sendai Mediatheque is a paradigmatic exploration of a new museum type. The Mediatheque gathers, preserves, exhibits, and presents media without being bound to a particular form. In his conception of the project, the architect imagined the viewer as an organism with two bodies: the tangible "primitive" body that seeks light and air and the "virtual" body that seeks information. This project marked a watershed in a growing discourse about architecture's relationship to the virtual.
The building consists of three elements: a series of weaving structural tubes, floor plates, and skin. It is conceived as a small piece cut out of an infinite structure, a gesture most evident in the lack of differentiation between the building’s cross section and its understated facade. This implies that the building is a visible part of an infinite fabric that oscillates between materiality and immateriality—between the primitive and the virtual. Inside, aluminum partitions fuzzily reflect the structural tubes, which also seem to extend infinitely. Media labs, interactive stations, digital displays, and countless other technological happenings are flexibly integrated into the space without disrupting the building’s versatility and its capability of adapting to new media and new ideas.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, p. 197.