Tea Time at Japan Society

Remembering 3.11 with Professor Hitoshi Abe

March 2021
Part of Tea Time at Japan Society & Ten Years Later: Japan Society Remembers 3.11

Professor Hitoshi Abe, Chair of UCLA Architecture and Urban Design from 2007-17 and originally from Sendai in Japan, was at his home in Los Angeles on 3.11. Three days later, he was finally able to reach his brother to confirm that his family was safe. "You can't just stay still—you have to do something. You are away from your home, you are not there, but you still feel pain…For the first couple of weeks, I couldn't really do much until I started to participate in Archi+Aid." A voluntary network of over 300 architects and university researchers in Japan, Archi+Aid assisted in Tohoku reconstruction efforts for five years (2011-15). The network also sought to nurture students of architecture through the reconstruction efforts. One initiative, The Lost Homes Project, restored 58 lost towns in 1:500 scale models and showcased them through workshops and exhibitions, helping bring together former residents to relive their memories and thoughts on the future of their community. Despite some of the challenges Archi+Aid faced, Professor Abe identifies a key role that architects and Archi+Aid played in Tohoku’s recovery: "With disasters like 3.11, where people cannot feel or sense a positive future, architects can actually help, by working together with the people and community to think about a believable, hopeful future together."

See Japan Society’s interview with Professor Abe in 2012.

Hitoshi Abe
Principal of Atelier Hitoshi Abe

Professor Hitoshi Abe is Principal of Atelier Hitoshi Abe; Professor at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design and Director of Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies; and Director of xLAB, an international think tank examining architecture’s elastic boundary through interdisciplinary collaboration which he established in 2017. Professor Abe was the Chair of UCLA Architecture and Urban Design from 2007-17 and holds the Terasaki Chair for Contemporary Japanese Study. In 1992, he won first prize in the Miyagi Stadium Competition, and since then he has maintained an active international design practice based in Sendai, Japan and Los Angeles. Professor Abe holds an Eng.D, Tohoku University, an M.Arch., Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), an M.Arch./ M.Eng., Tohoku University, and a B.Eng., Tohoku University.

Japan Society's Tea Time Season #3 features reflections on the Great East Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that struck Japan 10 years ago on March 11, 2011. Tea Time Season #3 is proudly supported by Tokio Marine Group and ITO EN (North America) INC.


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Japan Society’s Tea Time Season #3 is proudly supported by Tokio Marine Group and ITO EN (North America) INC.

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