Architect Kengo Kuma devised the Portland Japanese Garden's recent expansion.
Photo: Bruce Forster

Kengo Kuma Expands the Portland Japanese Garden

The superstar architect puts an eco-friendly spin on traditional forms

The Pacific Northwest now boasts the first publicly commissioned work in the U.S. by superstar Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. It’s the centerpiece of the Portland Japanese Garden’s blockbuster $33.5 million expansion, known as the Cultural Village. “We tried to create a very subtle gradation from nature to architecture,” says Kuma, who used Oregonian timber, pagoda-like green roofs, and the skills of a 15th-generation stonemason. The addition includes classrooms, an exhibition space, and the Umami Cafe, all ringed by new gardens of bonsai, moss, and cascading chabana tea flowers. 

Kengo employed green roofs as a way to harmonize traditional Japanese forms with the lush garden surroundings. Photo: Bruce Forster
Miniaturized trees populate the Bonsai Terrace. Photo: Bruce Forster
The bamboo-clad interior of one of Kuma’s new pavilions, which holds exhibitions and classrooms. Photo: Bruce Forster
A 15th-generation Japanese stonemason was flown in to complete this castle wall. Photo: Bruce Forster
The Umami Cafe from the garden path below. Photo: Tyler Quinn
Traditional Japanese cuisine at the Umami Cafe. Photo: Bruce Forster


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