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Assistant Professor of Architecture Authors Book on Contemporary Architect Tadao Ando

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Jin Baek, assistant professor of architecture, is the author of Nothingness: Tadao Ando’s Christian Sacred Space, published in June 2009 by Routledge Press. This book explores the influence of the Buddhist concept of nothingness on the Christian architecture of Ando, one the world’s leading contemporary architects.

The book situates Ando’s churches, particularly his world-renowned Church of the Light (1989), within the legacy of nothingness expounded by Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945), the father of the Kyoto Philosophical School, and its theory for perception and shintai, the Japanese term for body. Linking Ando’s Christian architecture with a philosophy originating in Mahayana Buddhism illuminates the relationship between the two religious systems, in addition to tying Ando’s architecture to the influence of Nishida on post-war Japanese art and culture. The book also includes an interview with Ando, where he discusses sacred space, the concept of nothingness, and relationships among residential and Christian architecture and Buddhist temples. Ando also addresses his design approach to the Museum of Kitaro Nishida's Philosophy (2002) in Unokemachi, Japan, the birthplace of the world-renowned philosopher.

Baek received a bachelor of science degree from Seoul National University, master of architecture degree from Yale University, and Ph.D. in architectural theory and history from University of Pennsylvania. His current research focuses on cross-cultural issues in architecture and urbanism and Japanese phenomenology and its lessons on the conception of nature, ecology and environmental ethics. His publications have appeared in major architectural and philosophical journals, including The Journal of Architectural Education, Architectural Research Quarterly, Architectural Theory Review and Philosophy East and West. Baek practices architectural design in collaboration with his wife, Youngsun Sonn.