Nakano Sun Plaza, a pyramidal concert venue and hotel tower that stands as one of the tallest and by far most idiosyncratic structures in Tokyo’s Nakano ward, is set to be demolished and replaced with a 770-foot-tall mixed-use skyscraper. When completed circa 2028, the new tower will stand as the eighth tallest in the city. As reported by Global Construction Review, demolition work on the beloved modernist landmark is set to kick off in 2024. (Often categorized as being a work of Brutalism, the curious-looking high-rise is in fact a composite structure and not built primarily from concrete.)
Completed in 1973, the 302-foot-tall Nakano Sun Plaza was designed by Shoji Hayashi of Nikken Sekkei Ltd, a major Japanese architecture and structural engineering firm. Over the past 50 years, the 21-story inclined tower has risen to fame not only as Nakano’s most emblematic and widely photographed building but as one of the most fabled rock venues in Tokyo. A quick search on YouTube shows that the building’s titular 2,200-seat concert hall has hosted some of the biggest musical acts of the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s including Duran Duran, Van Halen, The Clash, Guns N’ Roses, Journey, Iron Maiden, The Cure, Iggy Pop, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Kraftwerk, and on. The venue also played a formative role in the grunge movement with bands including Alice in Chains and Nirvana, in its final Japanese concert, taking the legendary Nakano Sun Plaza stage. Needless to say, the suites in the 83-room hotel that spans the tower’s 16th through 19th floors likely have some choice stories to tell.
A 2014 article in Metropolis, an English-language Japanese lifestyle magazine, explained that international acts have been less prevalent at Nakano Sun Plaza in more recent years as J-pop acts and “anime-related music and events” comprise a bulk of the bookings. Metropolis also noted that despite its advanced age (for Japan), the hotel’s mostly Western-style rooms have “been remodeled to be clean and modern.”
Per GRC, the $1.7 billion development replacing Nakano Sun Plaza will also include an auditorium, albeit a larger one with 5,000 seats, along with office and residential space. In addition to the hotel and concert hall, the current Nakano Sun Plaza also includes five floors of banquet halls, a wedding chapel, a recording studio, and athletic facilities including a tennis court, bowling alley, and swimming pool. Two restaurants with sweeping city views populate the tower’s triangular peak.
According to the Japanese Property Central blog, the decision to demolish the complex was due in large part to its age and growing maintenance costs, estimated at roughly $30 million. Contentious plans to raze Nakano Sun Plaza have been brewing since at least 2018, with one initial proposed scheme—obviously since scrapped in favor of the mixed-use supertall—envisioning a 10,000-seat arena for the site.