Imperial Hotel to be rebuilt after 2030

On March 16, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo is considering redeveloping their main hotel and neighboring office tower. This isn’t the first time rumors of redevelopment have been floated. Similar reports came out in early 2018 and late 2019.

A more detailed announcement is expected by the end of this month. Completion of the new hotel would be sometime after 2030, and the project cost is estimated to be somewhere around US$2 billion. With a history dating back 131 years, this would be the fourth Imperial Hotel to have graced this site.

Update: The main hotel building will be rebuilt between 2031 ~ 2016, while the tower will be rebuilt between 2024 ~ 2030. After redevelopment, the hotel rooms will be located in the main ‘Grand Hotel’ building, with the new tower having office, commercial and serviced apartments.

The 17-story main hotel building was built in 1970 and, due to its age, is costly to maintain while also losing its competitive edge to the newly-built luxury hotels in the city. Architect Teitaro Takahashi (1891-1970) designed the main hotel. He was a highly esteemed architect, having designed the grand residences of Marquis Maeda and Seiko watch founder Kintaro Hattori. He also designed the Kamikochi Hotel and Kawana Hotel. Sadly, the uproar over the loss of the old Wright building meant Takahashi received little fanfare for his design. 

The adjoining 31-story Imperial Tower was completed in 1983 and was Japan’s first mixed-use hotel and commercial tower. It contains retail on the lower floors, office floors, and 361 guest rooms on floors 21 to 31. 

The Imperial Hotel first opened on this site in 1890 to meet a pressing need for a place to welcome foreign guests. The 3-story wood and brick hotel was built in Renaissance Revival-style, and had 60 rooms. Due to the soft soil conditions, the brick walls were covered in stucco to give the appearance of an imposing stone building. The hotel outgrew its size, and was replaced with an iconic 270-room hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built between 1919 and 1923. It opened three months prior to the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake and survived, although suffering some damage. Discussions to rebuild the 280-room hotel began in 1936, just 13 years after its completion, to replace it with something more fitting for the cancelled 1940 Summer Olympics, but those plans were off the table following the outbreak of WWII. The hotel suffered some damage in air raids during WWII. The Wright-designed building would, again due to the poor soil conditions, sink by as much as 1.1 meters during its lifetime. 

Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 16, 2021.

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