Mori Building Company is celebrating our 50th Anniversary today, June 2nd, 2009.
Mori Building Company is celebrating our 50th Anniversary today, June 2nd, 2009.
Had it not been for your continued support and guidance throughout all these years, this small company that we have established half a century ago in Toranomon would have never grown into the city builder that we are today, having survived many economic cycles. This is why I would like to express hereby my deep gratitude to all of you. Together with my thanks, I hope this message will also serve as the record of our first half a century, and marks our firm resolutions looking forward to the next half century.
At the time Japan was making its utmost to reconstruct itself from the way, we have started to build, develop and operate office buildings jointly with neighbors in Shinbashi-Toranomon area, where the Mori family originated from. We built the first of the "numbered building series" in 1957, and we have established what is now Mori Building Company in 1959. While Japan was facing penury, we have continuously been innovating in order to supply high-quality and efficient office space to as many companies as possible at the cheapest possible rent, and to transform the Shinbashi-Toranomon into a modern business area from what was then a neighborhood covered with small wooden townhouses: our strategy was to build and manage a multitude of those numbered buildings.
However, thinking of the next era, we started questioning urban planning criteria which were then considered as conventional wisdom, such as zoning, separating business and residential purposes, and the creation of single-purpose zones. Through extraordinary efforts mobilizing each and everyone, Japan accomplished the so-called "Japan Miracle," rebuilding its economy and achieving high growth, but at the same time, in the capital city of Tokyo, citizen's homes were chased further and further from the workplace, resulting in the infamous "commuting hell," with poor quality of life, both from the viewpoint of people's free time and from a more mental aspect. At the same time, Tokyo became horizontally dense, with low- to mid-rise buildings covering all available land, from city centers all the way to suburban areas, with less and less green spaces and worsened urban environment.
It is with the strong wish to build a city where people could feel the joy and fulfillment of urban dwelling by bringing back such qualities as "time," "greens," "culture," and "safety" to the life in large cities that we spent 17 years to accomplish the "Ark Hills" redevelopment project.
What could we do in order to create a healthy urban living environment, both from the physical and mental aspects? How could we create space and time where people could reach within walking distance such various urban functions as work, live, play, eat, learn, meet, exchange, in addition to different services, such as medical, hospitality, relaxation and healing, cultural and entertainment? How can we make people feel fully safe against natural disasters, such as earthquakes?
These were the questions to be answered, and we have strived to create a new urban lifestyle by offering, within the same complex, such diverse functions as working, living, playing etc. That was possible by building high-rise structures using smaller footprints, applying the new urban redevelopment law that had just been enacted back then, and with the collaboration of the local neighbors in the community.
If our company's first stage had been the era of numbered buildings constructed jointly with neighbors, our second stage was the challenge toward creating a new model of mixed-use, compact "vertical garden cities" that brings home closer to the workplace, with Ark Hills as a cardinal point.
This city-making process materialized in Tokyo through our "Hills" series, such as Atago Green Hills, Motoazabu Hills, Roppongi Hills and Omotesando Hills. More particularly, through the Roppongi Hills project, we have developed this concept of a cultural heart for Tokyo, which will disseminate information out to the rest of the world. Roppongi Hills has captured attention worldwide as a model project for urban regeneration, with not just offices, residences and retail, but including so many various other functions such as broadcasting studios, museum, observation deck, conference center, dining club, hotel, cinema complex, arena outdoor theater etc. Roppongi Hills also introduced new concepts such as "arts center" and "town management," thus fully managing this large-scale urban complex and providing support for people's urban life and community.
Overseas, Mori Building Company's activities include constructing the "Shanghai World Financial Center" in China – we have always been highly original, adapting to local features and needs of the times: no two Mori projects are the same.
And now, our capital city of Tokyo is entering a phase where the basic structure of the city itself must be rethought of, in view of an overall reorganization. Next issues to be dealt with include earthquake-proofing, globalization, aging population, structural shift toward knowledge-information society, and global environmental challenges including climate change. For Japan and its capital Tokyo to become the center of Asia in the new global scene after the global financial crisis, a prerequisite and corner stone strategy would be an urban regeneration, we believe.
We are currently under severe conditions of the global financial crisis and the subsequent economic downturn, but this kind of timing is when we should move steadily toward regenerating the cities, that provide a setting for people's actions and economic activities. We have therefore renewed our resolve to keep up with our utmost effort toward that goal, as this is our social mission and our raison d'être, since urban regeneration would enhance Japan's magnet power, attractiveness and international competitiveness while contributing to domestic demand expansion and job creation.
This resolve will mark the beginning of our third stage, at the dawn of our second half century, as we shall embark in the new city making of the 21st Century. We hope to show all of you the realization the Vertical Garden City in a further evolved form.
The next evolution that the Vertical Garden City model will see is the full and efficient utilization of not just the skyline, but also of below ground and under raised platforms, in order to free up even more space on the surface for people and greens.
By combining different layers above and under ground level, with a whole range of urban functions at different levels, a new type of city will emerge, where people can move around walking, or by bicycle, or on tram and similar light transportation systems. This new model will allow smaller natural environments to be reborn in city centers in spite of enhanced density, while allowing full nature to come back to suburban and rural areas. By using our national land in a contrasted way, rather than allowing uniform development everywhere, we would be able to increase the total green area as a whole, thus curbing climate change and urban heat island phenomenon and raising energy efficiency and allowing low environment impact growth.
We propose that a grand design for the city be decided, while strategic zones would be rebuilt successively under this kind of model: this would create cities that you would want to take refuge into in case of natural disasters such as earthquakes; cities that forever protect human lives and enhance corporate activities. This will also be an urban model that will bring to our lives precious resources such as time, nature and culture. Dense yet environmentally friendly: by realizing this new Asian urban model, we have the ambition to show the world how cities can be regenerated for the good of the citizens.
Building and nurturing cities is an endless undertaking that needs collaborative efforts with all of you. This is why we are hereby asking for further help and wisdom from all of you, so what we would, together, bring even further results. Your support in our stepping into our second half a century would be ever more crucial.
President and CEO
Mori Building Co., Ltd.
Urban Design by Mori Building: Vertical Garden City