Obit> Yoshiko Sato, 1960-2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Yoshiko Sato. (Dustin Aksland)

Yoshiko Sato. (Dustin Aksland)

Yoshiko Sato, an architect and educator who was committed to repairing the world through design, died on Sunday in New York City after a battle with cancer. Sato was born in Tokyo to parents who studied engineering and design, which sparked her interest in science and the arts. Following a tour of Europe to study art and design, the Tokyo native settled in New York in the early 1980s and continued her education at Parsons School of Design. Her professors Billie Tsien, Robert MacAnulty, and Laurie Hawkinson quickly recognized her talent and encouraged Sato to move toward architecture. She transferred to the Cooper Union where she continued her studies under John Hejduk, Toshiko Mori, Tod Williams, and Peter Eisenman, graduating in 1989. In 1996, she received a Masters in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design where she explored architecture and urban design under Raphael Moneo and received honors for her thesis on rebuilding Kobe, Japan after a devastating earthquake in 1995.

Sato’s professional career in New York bridged architecture, art, and design across a broad range of scales. She operated the Morris Sato Studio with her husband and design partner Michael Morris, exploring the ethereal nature of design as represented in the award-winning retrospective exhibit Shiro Kuramata, 1934-1991 and in her installation LightShowers. She won further accolades for her personal and comprehensive exploration in a pair of houses recently completed on Shelter Island.

Returning to education, Sato was appointed to Columbia’s GSAPP in 1999 where she directed the Japan Lab in Architecture. Her passion for both sustainability and exploration into outer space were clear in her work, including a collaboration with GSAPP and NASA to create Space Habitation Modules.

Sato is survived by her husband, mother, and sister Noriko Oguri of Yokohama, Japan. The staff at The Architect’s Newspaper sends our condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues. Those who wish to honor the memory of Yoshiko Sato may donate to the Japanese Red Cross Society. Condolences may be sent to Morris Sato Studio, 219 East 12th Street, 1st Fl., New York, New York 10003 or

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7 Responses to “Obit> Yoshiko Sato, 1960-2012”

  1. Brian says:

    Yoshiko’s space studio at GSAPP was my most favored class and she was a great inspiration. Her enthusiasm for the subject and how design could change the way we think about it was immense. She will be missed. My prayers go out to her family.

  2. Sara Hart says:

    Yoshiko’s funeral services will be private; those wishing to honor her may donate to the Japanese Red Cross Society

  3. Maria E. Mayer says:

    my prayers and condolences to her husband & parents for the passing away of such a valuable individual and remarkable woman; Japan produces amazing people; I am quite saddened by this, but happy that I got to know about her thanks to this medium; my daughter is learning Japanese; we love Japan; God bless you

  4. Maria E. Mayer says:

    I notice she studied under Rafael Moneo, designer of the cathedral of Los Angeles and my favorite architect; I wonder if he has been informed of this sad news; he might be able to give some words of consolation to her family

  5. crister cantrell says:

    Yoshiko was my first instructor when I was 17 at a career discovery program. She was tough. I remember vividly when she sent me to the library in the middle of my first review to find out who Noguchi was. I learned a great deal from her, probably more than in my first year at architecture school. I always hoped to contact her and thank her for all that I learned from her… a good reminder to reach out to those people in your life now while you still have the opportunity.

  6. judith says:

    Yoshiko was one of my most inspiring teacher at Parsons and at GSAPP. I am extremely sad about this news.

  7. Jose & Graciela Salgado says:

    Dear Yoshiko Sato:
    Our eternal gratitude for the great support you always had given to our son Jorge. First while he was your student, and also for the great time he spent working with you and your husband, Michael Morris. You always will be in our hearts.

    Michael, our deep condolences at this time of sorrow for the loss of your dear wife Yoshiko.

    Jose and Graciela Salgado .

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