Kenzo Tange Architecture Portfolio, An Introduction

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Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tokyo City Hall)

Tokyo skyscraper, 48 floors, two-towered design, postmodern coloring
Tokyo Metropolitan government Building (Tokyo City Hall), Designed by Kenzo Tange, 1991. Photo © Victor Fraile / Corbis Sport / Getty Images (cropped)

The New Tokyo City Hall Complex replaced the 1957 Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, the first of a dozen government projects designed by Tange Associates. The new complex—two skyscrapers and an assembly hall—is dominated by the Tokyo City Hall Tower I skyscraper.

About Tokyo City Hall:

Completed: 1991
Architect: Kenzo Tange
Architectural Height: 798 1/2 feet (243.40 meters)
Floors: 48
Construction Materials: composite structure
Style: Postmodern
Design Idea: Two-towered Gothic cathedral, after Notre Dame in Paris

The tops of the towers are irregularly shaped to lessen the effects of Tokyo winds.

Sources: The New Tokyo City Hall Complex, Tange Associates website; Tokyo City Hall, Tower I and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Complex, Emporis [accessed November 11, 2013]

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Saint Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo, Japan

St. Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo, Japan, 1964, Kenzo Tange
St. Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo, Japan, 1964, Kenzo Tange. Photo © Pablo Sanchez, pablo.sanchez on, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The original Roman Catholic church—a wooden, Gothic structure—was destroyed during World War II. The Diocese of Koln, Germany, helped the parishioners rebuild.

About Saint Mary's Cathedral:

Dedicated: December 1964
Architect: Kenzo Tange
Architectural Height: 39.42 meters
Floors: one (plus basement)
Construction Materials: stainless steel and pre-cast concrete
Design Idea: four pairs of soaring walls create a traditional, Gothic Christian cross building design—with a cross floor plan similar to the 13th century Chartres Cathedral in France

Sources: History, Tange Associates; Archdiocese of Tokyo at [accessed December 17, 2013]

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Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower

Glass and steel detail of Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, 2008 by Kenzo Tange, Tokyo, Japan
Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, 2008 by Kenzo Tange, Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Eurasia/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images

Kenzo Tange died in 2005, but his architecture firm went on to build modern skyscrapers that seem to have more in common with British architect Norman Foster than with Tange's own earlier work like Tokyo City Hall—moving from massive concrete to high-tech glass and aluminum. Or maybe it was the modern architects who were being influenced by Tange's stainless steel Saint Mary's Cathedral, dedicated in 1964—built well before Frank Gehry was sculpting exteriors.

About Cocoon Tower:

Completed: 2008
Architect: Tange Associates
Architectural Height: 668.14 feet
Floors: 50 above ground
Construction Materials: concrete and steel structure; glass and aluminum facade
Style: Deconstructivist
Awards: First Place 2008 Emporis Skyscraper Award

The Giant Cocoon houses three of Tokyo's influential training institutions: HAL College of Technology and Design, Mode Gakuen College of Fashion and Beauty, and Shuto Iko College of Medical Care and Welfare.

Learn More:

Source: Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, EMPORIS [accessed June 9, 2014]

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Kuwait Embassy in Japan

Block-like Metabolist architecture, The Embassy of the State of Kuwait, Tokyo, Japan
The Embassy of the State of Kuwait, Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Takahiro Yanai/Moment Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

Japanese architect Kenzo Tange (1913-2005) is the acknowledged instigator of the Metabolist movement, hatched at the Tange Laboratory of Tokyo University. The visual cue of Metabolism is often the module-look or assorted-boxes-look of the building. It was a 1960s urban experiment in design, well before the invention of  Jenga.

About Kuwait's Embassy in Japan:

Completed: 1970
Architect: Kenzo Tange
Height: 83 feet (25.4 meters)
Stories: 7 with 2 basement and 2 penthouse floors
Construction Materials: Reinforced concrete
Style: Metabolist

Source: Kuwait Embassy and Chancellery, Tange Associates website [accessed August 31, 2015]

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

The arch and the Peace Memorial Museum reflected in the water inside Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan
The arch and the Peace Memorial Museum reflected in the water inside Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan. Photo by Jean Chung / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is built around the Genbaku Dome, the A-Bomb Dome, a 1915 domed structure that was the only building standing after an atomic bomb leveled all of Hiroshima, Japan. It remained standing because it was closest to the bomb blast. Professor Tange began the reconstruction project in 1946, combining tradition with modernism throughout the park.

About Hiroshima Peace Center:

Completed: 1952
Architect: Kenzo Tange
Total floor area: 2,848.10 square meters
Number of stories: 2
Height: 13.13 meters

Source: Project, Tange Associates website [accessed June 20, 2016]