The most significant artifact in the MoMA exhibition A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond was not one of the sumptuous architectural models, or any of the precise orthographic drawings, but a small, hand-drawn sketch. The sketch—labeled “Toyo Ito and Surroundings,” signed by Ito himself and dated 9 September 2012—depicts a series of interesting circles, each containing the name of an architect or engineer (Figure 1). Ito places his own name in the largest circle, at the center. Around him orbit smaller circles with the names of figures who worked for or with him.

Placed prominently at the entrance of the exhibition, the sketch served...

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