Japan sits in one of the most active earthquake zones on the planet: the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire. In September alone, the country experienced 75 quakes, according to an analysis by VolcanoDiscovery.com. So the team looking to build the country’s tallest building is going in prepared: When it unveiled the designs for its new Torch Tower in Tokyo in September, developer Mitsubishi Estate said the building will have Japan's “highest level of seismic resistance.” The developer also said it will carve out public spaces that can serve as shelters in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster.
Rising 390 meters (1,279 feet) high, the JPY500 billion skyscraper is part of a wider National Strategic Special Zone development in the Tokiwabashi business district. Once a gateway to the historic Edo Castle, the area is being reimagined under a 10-year project that aims to “make Japan a place that excites the world,” with the torch name meant to invoke “the light that gathers those who come together to build Japan’s future.” And to that end, the zone offers easy access to several train and metro stations as well as an underground pedestrian walkway.
Slated to open in 2027, Torch Tower will be mostly comprised of office space, along with shops, restaurants and a luxury hotel. A sprawling observation deck will separate the flame-inspired top from the rest of the building—and at 300 meters (984 feet), the space will provide spectacular views of Mount Fuji as well as the city center.
Before construction is scheduled to begin in 2023, the team must relocate a sewage pumping station near the site. And it will also need to coordinate around other site construction activities, including work on a companion high-rise, Tokiwabashi Tower, due to be completed in June 2021.
The overarching plan was first introduced in 2016, and Mitsubishi Estate is prepared to pivot plans on Torch Tower if necessary. The current design calls for 63 floors dedicated to office space, but as more organizations shift to remote work in the wake of the pandemic, the team may have to accommodate an alternate use for the space.