View all Events

Garden+ Lecture Series: Balazs and Botond Bognar

Nature, Ritual, Craft: Kengo Kuma and Portland Japanese Garden

You could say that my aim is ‘to recover the place’. The place is a result of nature and time; this is the most important aspect. Transparency is a characteristic of Japanese architecture; I try to use light and natural materials to get a new kind of transparency. –Kengo Kuma

Balazs and Botond Bognar present a public lecture at the Garden to mark the launch of their new book, Kengo Kuma: Portland Japanese Garden (Rizzoli, 2019). Come join us on the Garden’s beautiful Overlook to hear the story of the creation of the Garden’s Cultural Village and the inspiration it took from Japan’s monzen-machi, the small settlements built in front of gates or shrines. The conversation will touch on the Japanese tradition of dwelling in harmony with nature, the Garden’s evolution into a world-renowned Japanese cultural organization, and the bold vision shared across the Pacific that moved the project forward to fruition. The evening will be a chance to learn firsthand about the elements and features in the Cultural Village and their ancient lineage in Japan, become acquainted with the craftspeople whose work graces the Village, and gain insights into how Kuma and the Garden’s leadership sought to shape the experience of visitors to the Garden for generations to come.

A limited number of copies of Kengo Kuma: Portland Japanese Garden (Rizzoli, 2019) will be available at the event. Advance copies of the book can be ordered from our Gift Shop.

About the Speakers

Photo by Miko Hayashi

Balazs Bognar is an American architect and a design director at Kengo Kuma and Associates. He received his Master in Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at Washington University of St. Louis. Bognar has been based in Tokyo and working with Kengo Kuma since 2007, focusing on projects primarily in the United States, but also in Canada, Australia, China, and Japan. Significant projects completed with Kengo Kuma include the Red Bull Music Academy Japan (Tokyo, 2014), Shizuku by Chef Naoko (Portland, 2016), Portland Japanese Garden (2017), Suteki House (Happy Valley, 2017), and the soon to be completed Rolex Tower (Dallas). He has projects in progress in Sydney, Tokyo, Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Vail, Colorado.

Botond Bognar is Professor and Edgar A. Tafel Endowed Chair in Architecture at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He received his B.S. in Architecture and M.Arch.

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

degrees at the Technical University of Budapest and his M.A. in Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. As a Japanese Governmental (Mombusho) Scholar he conducted research at the Tokyo Institute of Technology for two years in the early 1970s and still maintains a close relationship with the organization. He practiced architecture in both Hungary and Japan, where he lived for several years. An internationally-renowned scholar on the history and theories of contemporary Japanese architecture and urbanism, he has taught graduate studios and lecture and seminar courses in the Illinois School of Architecture since 1981. He is a contributor to more than 30 books and has lectured in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.


Please note that lecture tickets do not include the price of Garden admission for non-members, and that the lecture area will be tented and the event will take place rain or shine.

The Garden+ Lecture Series places the Japanese garden in bold and inspiring new contexts by bringing designers, authors, practitioners and researchers to the Garden to share fresh ideas.  Come experience original perspectives, thought-provoking research, and new creative work. We bring presenters from around the globe to shed new light on how gardens connect to subjects as diverse as spirituality, technical innovation, architecture, culture, design, and society — all made more resonant with the  Garden itself as a backdrop. Garden+ is a presentation of the International Japanese Garden Training Center, which is supported by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.