Nakanoshima Mitsui Building

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Osaka, Japan
807,000 square feet / 75,000 square meters
2002

On a prominent site between the Tosabori and Dojima rivers on the island of Nakanoshima, this 31-​story office tower serves as headquarters to several companies of the Mitsui Group. This narrow site called for a thin building that links the two rivers, with long façades facing east and west.

The façades are rich surfaces with carefully patterned combinations of stone, glass and stainless steel. Each wall is distinct, responding to its orientation. The east façade conveys substance, depth and solidity at the base of the tower. Stone gives way to glass as the tower slowly becomes more open and transparent toward the top. As the tower rises, the vertical piers slowly slip back into the glass wall and the horizontal stone panels get slimmer in height until they disappear. Stainless steel elements add delicate textures and highlights to contrast the stone. The west façade is simpler and more uniformly solid. Here, white granite is the predominant material, a solid backdrop for the setting sun.

The curved north and south façades are open and glassy to maximize views of the rivers. Each responds to its very different solar orientation. The south wall reduces solar gain through the use of gracefully tapered sunshades. The north wall features simple stainless steel accents to catch highlights and reinforce the wall’s arching form.

The building contains offices, penthouse VIP offices, high-​end retail showrooms, banking services and a food court. A large and welcoming open atrium clad in Brazilian granite features works of art including Jenny Holzer’s Serpentine and Hiroshi Yoshimizu’s Rubious.