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transper_1pic.gif JR Central Towers:
A City in the Sky

You are riding on a bullet train and have just arrived at JR Nagoya Station in Aichi Prefecture. Stepping onto the platform, you notice two gigantic structures soaring high into the sky. Without a doubt, it is an awesome sight. These are the JR Central Towers of the station building complex, completed in December 1999.

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The JR Central Towers at dusk. As gigantic as they are, they have an elegant design that blends into the surrounding cityscape rather than dominating it.
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The station building complex functions as both a transit point and a commercial center, and it comes complete with rental office space and a hotel as well as all sorts of restaurants and shops. Multifunctional station buildings are by no means rare in Japan. Many major terminals where passengers change trains have such a building or set of buildings. But among these numerous structures, the JR Central Towers are exceptional. Their scale is such that they have even made the list for largest station buildings in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Hotel Tower rises 53 stories high, or 226 meters, and the Office Tower, though it has only 51 stories, is even taller, reaching 245 meters into the sky. At the bottom of the complex, which altogether has 416,565 square meters of floor space, are 4 underground floors.

The flagship establishments of the complex are JR Nagoya Takashimaya, a department store, and Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel. Other notable features are Towers Plaza, which takes up two floors and has a dazzling variety of restaurants, Sky Street, which is a concourse 70 meters above the ground connecting the Hotel Tower to the Office Tower, and Panorama House, an observatory at the top of the Office Tower.

Sky Street connects the Hotel Tower to the Office Tower on the 15th floor, 70 meters above ground level. This linear concourse is like a street across the sky.

Open spaces of extravagant size were worked into the design. Sky Street, for instance, has a lofty ceiling and an all-glass exterior wall, which combine to give you the impression of strolling along an avenue high up in the sky. There are 12 elevators, nicknamed Sky Shuttles, available to whisk you from the entrance straight up to Towers Plaza and Sky Street, so you will hardly have to wait. Conventional skyscrapers tend to produce an oppressive atmosphere and be inconvenient for movement, but the JR Central Towers stand out for the excellence of their design in both respects.

Seiji Kitayama, general manager of the Planning Division of JR Central Building Co., Ltd., was involved in the project from the start. “We set our sights on turning the train station into a city,” he says. “We thought of passageways as city streets, and we designed them for providing easy access so that people can fully enjoy all the pleasures of the assorted facilities. With a large department store and hotel added to the list of what is available, the various services of the respective facilities benefit from a synergistic effect and offer all the convenience and excitement of a big town. The towers are not a mere gateway to Nagoya; they are in themselves a city which bustle with human activity.”

Such are the JR Central Towers, Aichi’s latest landmark. If you have occasion to come to our prefecture for a visit, why not venture into this city in the sky and check it out for yourself?
(Masahiro Ota; photos by Seiya Kawamoto)

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