Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects is designing a new complex for Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel

Following Frank’s Footsteps

Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects is designing a new complex for Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel

ATTA’s design is the fourth generation of Tokyo’s famous Imperial Hotel. (©Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects)

Tokyo’s world famous Imperial Hotel is slated for a rebuilding by Paris firm Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects (ATTA). ATTA joins the ranks of Frank Lloyd Wright and renowned Japanese architects, Yuzuru Watanabe and Takahashi Teitaro, to add to the Hotel’s legacy.

The Imperial Hotel Company first announced its latest intention to build a new main building and tower in 2021. An international design competition followed which invited renowned Japanese and international firms for the lauded institution’s fourth iteration since 1890. ATTA was subsequently selected to carry out the historic commission. The design jury commended ATTA for demonstrating their ability to “understand the history and philosophy of the Imperial Hotel in order to create designs that embodied the Hotel’s presence and uniqueness from both near and far.”

“We considered international architects from Japan and abroad,” said Imperial Hotel’s president Hideya Sadayasu in describing the jury’s decision. “Among them, we chose architects who are promising, young, experienced in the world, and who share and embody our desire to challenge the future while inheriting our history.”

Original Imperial Hotel from 1890 by Yuzuru Watanabe (©Imperial Hotel)

The first Imperial Hotel was designed by Japanese architect Yuzuru Watanabe when Hibiya, the Hotel’s Tokyo neighborhood, was Japan’s economic and cultural center. The second expansion was famously led by Frank Lloyd Wright, completed in 1923. In 1970, Takahashi Teitaro’s third iteration of the Hotel opened its doors. Tsuyoshi Tane’s vision marks the fourth generation of the lauded institution.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1923 Imperial Hotel (©Imperial Hotel)
Takahashi Teitaro’s third iteration built in 1970 (©Imperial Hotel)

In describing their design process, ATTA claimed they “excavated the history, typologies, civilizations, styles, ornaments, spaces and materials of the Imperial Hotel through a unique archaeological approach to research.” The end result is a clear nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1923 version: its setbacks and screens recall Wright’s iconic chevron patterns and volumetric postures.

Perspective of Uchisaiwaicho 1-chome District Development. New main building of the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo in the center. (©Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects )

While paying homage to the late master, ATTA’s proposal is unique for its time and place. Its gilded ornament and symmetries rethink the palace typology for the 21st century. ATTA revived Wright’s concept of creating a “Jewel of the Orient” in their proposal. In describing their design, ATTA stated they “chose permanence over novelty, depth over surface, presence over lightness, and diversity over simplicity. The New Main Building of the Imperial Hotel aims to carry the wisdom of humanity to the future.”

Construction of the Main Building will begin in 2031 and come to a close in 2036.