Demolition of the Kenzo Tange-designed Dentsu Tsukiji Building will start on April 18. The brutalist landmark building will be flattened to make way for a multi-block redevelopment by Sumitomo Realty & Development.

The 13-story office building was completed in 1967 and served as the headquarters of advertising giant Dentsu until they relocated to Shiodome in 2002. In the following years it was occupied by one of Dentsu’s subsidiaries until they moved out in 2014.

Before moving to Tsukiji, Dentsu’s headquarters were in the Dentsu Ginza Building (c1933), that still stands today. The company experienced tremendous growth in the 1950s, quickly outgrowing their Ginza office.

Tange, considered one of the most significant architects of the 20th century had already designed Dentsu’s Osaka branch building in 1960. At the same time, the Dentsu president had acquired 3,300 sqm of land in Tsukiji and had budgeted 3 billion Yen for the construction of a 9-story office tower. Just as construction started in July 1963, a revision to the Building Standards Act saw the long-enacted building height limit of 31 meters removed, setting off the trend for skyscrapers. Plans were quickly altered for a 19-story tower, but budget blowouts saw it reduced to a more sensible 13 floors. Construction was re-started in 1965 with the new tower completed by May 1967. 

The company moved into the building on their 66th anniversary on July 1, 1967, celebrating the occasion by having 1,200 staff and supporters parade from their former Ginza office to the new Tsukiji building. Further growth in the following decades saw them outgrow the Tsukiji building, acquiring land in Shiodome in 1997 for their new head office.

In 2014, the Tsukiji building and neighboring lots were acquired by Sumitomo for their Tsukiji 1 Chome District Redevelopment. Demolition of the various buildings is expected to be completed by mid-2022.

What could have been. Tange’s vision for Tsukiji.

Tange had drawn up breathtaking concept plans for the renewal of the Tsukiji district, with this building to be the first and last in the futuristic Tsukiji Redevelopment Plan. Ahead of his time, Tange’s plan would have seen a lattice work of interconnected buildings and criss-crossing highways.


1-11-10 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo

Source: The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun, March 23, 2021.