Cathie Gandel

Jon Jerde in Japan: Designing the Spaces Between

"The true test of an architectural book like this is whether or not it makes you anxious to visit the site or keen to return in order to look again with a fresh understanding. Jon Jerde in Japan passes with flying colors."
--Stephen Burge, Fukuoka History Website

When Fukuoka Jisho, a large private developer on the Japanese island of Kyushu, bought a nine-acre site in the distressed center of Fukuoka, they were determined to build a project that would revive the city's heart. To accomplish this, they called the Jerde Partnership, a firm that had already demonstrated its commitment to designing 'places,' not merely buildings. Bounded by this common vision, Fukuoka Jisho and the Jerde Partnership negotiated language and cultural differences, one of Japan's worst economic recessions, internal disagreements, and numerous redesigns in a co-creative process that yielded a unique architectural outcome.

"Fukuoka, Japan: April 19, 1996. Seen through the mist that rises from the Naka River, Canal City Hakata stands out in the gray Fukuoka cityscape like a rainbow in shades of purple, yellow, red and blue. In the linear landscape of pencil-like buildings, the project nestles into its nine-acre space like a cat curling up on a cushion. The entrances to Canal City Hakata are a seamless extension of the neighborhood streets. All is fluid. There is a sense of flow from the city, through the project, and back to the city again. It seems as if there is not a single straight line to be found. Cylinders, arcs, cones and spheres urge the eye and the body forward....

"A temporary Shinto shrine has been set up on a small circular island projecting out into a canal that divides a Grand Hyatt Hotel from a four-story retail and entertainment project. The simple linear design of the wooden shrine contrasts with the turrets, towers and curved balconies that surround it on both sides. A light mist fills the canyon of glass and stone that rises out of the canal.

"The project's vibrant colors contrast with the dark suits of the somber businessmen who approach the shrine one-by-one. Each takes a sakaki branch from the white-robed priest, bows twice and places the branch ceremonially on the altar. The priest claps his hands twice sharply and clearly to attract the attention of the gods. The businessman bows again and steps back to give his place to the next executive. The mournful sounds of the shou, a Japanese flute, waft over the quiet setting.

"But this is not a mournful occasion. This very traditional Japanese ceremony is celebrating the successful completion of Canal City Hakata, then the largest private development ever built in Japan and the first major mixed use project to be built outside the major cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya."

Quick Links

Selected Works

Book
About the creation of "one of the most significant architectural works of the 20th century."
Magazine article
How to Get the Right Hearing Aid 10 tips to guide you
Online
Patrick McGovern’s alcohol-infused archaeology informs some of the best local alehouses, but the real benefit of his work may lie in the cancer ward.
Newspaper Essay
One last trip with the kids has rewards beyond learning if koalas can walk.