Osaka Construction Roundup!
As you might now, I have an interest in cities, where they came from, how they are, and where they’re going. That being said, I have a small interest in high-rise construction as well. I thought somehow Osaka had no room left to grow, but it turns out the pace of construction of buildings over 100 meters has been roughly doubling each decade since the 1960s. In many parts of the city there’s literally a new building going up on every block.
So I present to you Osaka’s largest undergoing high-rise projects!
First up is the largest, the Abenobashi Terminal Tower.
Japan has a sort of train culture you just don’t see in America. A major urban train station isn’t just a place you have to go to get somewhere else- it’s a destination, full of department stores, restaurants, marketplaces, hotels, even office property. They have an urbanizing influence on their neighborhoods, as more developments tend to cluster around the station. The Abenobashi Tower certainly shows Japanese train culture isn’t going away- a gigantic addition to the multi-line Tennoji Station in south Osaka. With 62 floors and 300 meters, it will be Japan’s tallest high-rise skyscraper on completion, as well as Japan’s first true “supertall”, as defined as a building over 300 meters. It will contain retail of all sorts, office space, and a hotel (slated to be Mariott last I heard).
It replaces a much smaller department store owned by one of the train companies, built around the early 1970s. Part of the building appears to be left connected to the new tower, though.
When I first arrived here, the tower was literally a big pit of dirt. At the start of February the site looked like this:
Over the next month accelerated at an unbelievable pace.
The south end of Osaka has rather few high-rises, as compared to further north. This area in particular is one of the poorer, if not the poorest, in the city, hit rather hard by the 1990s economic fall. This tower could be a sign of a reverse in fortune for the neighborhood, and definitely a symbol of Osaka’s recovery as a city.
Next up is the Nakanoshima Festival Tower. Nakanoshima is a unique geographic feature of central Osaka, a long, narrow spit of an island in the middle of the river that flows past the castle. It’s long been the site for government buildings and offices, but in the past decade it’s undergone a radical transformation, with skyscraper after skyscraper filling the island. The Festival Tower is only the latest, a 39 story, 200 meter predominantly office building rising on the site of a squat office built at the turn of the 1960s. It’s due to be complete by October 2012.
Construction has proceeded gradually until the last month, when the pace has accelerated.
And then we have a rather ambitious project that will really change the cityscape- four skyscrapers going up simultaneously as part of one very large development that seems to be called Osaka Grand Front, containing offices, retail of all sorts, and residence in a pretty big expansion of the city. Four towers, all around 150-180 meters tall, and ranging from 30 to 50 stories. Just north of the downtown district of Umeda is a vast freightyard. In the past, it was even larger, but recently the peripheral parts of the complex, especially the small freight and truck yards, have been taken over by high-rises. Grand Front in particular takes over a large eastern slice of the freight area that seems to have been a trailer truck depot back in the 1980s. It was cleared years ago, but it remained unclear to me what they were doing with the land until one day in early May I wandered by and saw this:
All I can say now is, it sure is exciting to live in a city with this much energy and change. Who says the Chinese are the only ones who can build stuff?