Tange: A Legacy of Leadership

Paul Tange AB ’81, MArch ’85 and Denise Tange

Paul and Denise Tange

Paul Tange AB ’81, MArch ’85 and Denise Tange

The GSD’s deep and ongoing relationship with the Tange family reinforces Kenzo Tange’s legacy at the School. When Paul Tange AB ’81, MArch ’85 came to Harvard in the fall of 1977, he explored courses in statistics and economics, but ultimately decided to focus on architecture. Paul credits Harvard with giving him the opportunity to choose architecture. After joining, and eventually taking over the reins of his father’s practice, Paul founded his own firm, Tange Associates, in 2002. Kenzo Tange, whose relationship to Harvard began when he received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1971, is among the most celebrated architects of the modern era. Through his work, which spanned five continents and six decades, Tange left a remarkable legacy of innovation, and a vivid sense of Japanese architectural traditions. Recipient of both the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1987 and the AIA Gold Medal in 1966, Tange has influenced students of architecture from around the globe.

In the fall of 2009, the GSD hosted the first comprehensive exhibition on Kenzo Tange anywhere in the world in more than twenty years. Curated by Seng Kuan AB ’98, AM ’04, MUP ’04, PhD ’11, Utopia Across Scales: Highlights from the Kenzo Tange Archive exhibited original models and dozens of original drawings of Tange’s bestknown works, which re-examine the role of housing, monumentality, communication, and scale in architectural and urban thinking. Soon after the exhibition, in 2011, the Tange family generously gifted the Kenzo Tange Archive to the GSD’s Frances Loeb Library. The archive, which physically arrived on campus in 2013, is currently being conserved, cataloged, and digitized for global access online.

Earlier this year, in recognition of Paul’s 35th year reunion at Harvard College, and on the eve of their daughter’s graduation from the College, Paul and Denise Tange generously donated $100,000 toward Friends of the Kenzo Tange Archive Fund. Kick-started in 2012 with combined gifts totaling $125,000 from Thierry Porté AB ’79, MBA ’82 and an anonymous donor, the Fund has allowed the library to develop a preservation and digitization strategy, and to begin processing the archive. Paul and Denise’s generous gift, which has been recognized by the College as a reunion gift, will ensure that work on the archive continues and that this invaluable resource is made available to a broader audience through digitization.

According to Professor of Architecture Mark Mulligan MArch ’90, the archive has transformed his teaching: “The Kenzo Tange Archive includes dozens of projects of national and international significance, each incredibly comprehensive in its documentation. Bringing groups of students to the Archive to examine sets of original hand drawings on vellum can generate wide-ranging discussions on architectural history, techniques of representation, construction technology, and issues of professional practice. It’s a rich and diverse resource that has greatly enhanced my research and teaching at  the GSD.”

Loeb Library Director Ann Whiteside aspires to expand access to the archive. “The ambition to extend access to these primary documents to a global audience through digitization will ensure that Tange’s visionary thinking informs future generations around the globe.”

The Tange family’s munificence has not been limited to these recent gifts to the GSD. In 1984, Kenzo and Takako Tange established the Kenzo Tange Visiting Professorship at Harvard, which brings luminaries to campus each year to teach and lecture. With their gift, Paul and Denise Tange have embraced the legacy of design leadership that has long been associated with the Tange name.

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