Tsukuba Center Building
1979 - 1983
Site Area: 19,642 sqmBuilding Area: 8,379 sqmTotal Floor Area: 32,902 sqm
Tsukuba Science City, located forty miles from Tokyo, is a unique phenomenon in Japan. The planner's intention was to centralize in Tsukuba various university and government research facilities that had been scattered throughout Tokyo. But what sets Tsukuba apart from other large-scale "new towns" built in Japanese suburbs after the war is the fact that, along with housing, it provides many of the amenities associated with urban life. The Tsukuba Center Building was designed as a civic center complex to bring life and activity to the city. It includes a hotel, a concert hall, an information center, a shopping mall, and a community center.
The planning of the town is characterized by its circulation system, in which interconnected pedestrian decks bridge over the vehicular traffic routs at ground level. These bridges provide pedestrian access to the Tsukuba Center Building, located on the primary north-south axis of the town. One level below the pedestrian decks is the focus of the complex, a sunken plaza or "forum" whose design is essentially a reverse quotation of the Campidoglio in Rome.
A concert hall and an information center occupy the south block of the building, with shops arranged around the sunken plaza. The east block consists of two cubes. The larger one houses the hotel and contains the entrance hall on the first floor, a restaurant and coffee shop on the second, and banquet halls of various sizes on the third and fourth. The fifth through tenth floors hold the guest rooms, and the top floor contains a sky lounge and a restaurant. The smaller cube, which has been rotated off the plaza's axis and sliced off on one conner, is a separate banquet hall.
On the sides of the building that facing vehicular traffic zones, the exterior is relatively simple and unarticulated, while the sides facing the plaza display a wide variety of forms and finishes. Here the ground floor is rusticated, using locally quarried granite and artificial stone. The upper parts of the building are clad in silver tile - with glazed and unglazed pieces forming a pattern - and aluminum panels, which are used to cover curved surfaces or to highlight specific parts, Geometric shapes - triangles, semicircles, cubes, cylinders - are found on the facade, as are references to traditional architectural forms like columns and arch details.