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Roppongi Hills as seen from Tokyo Tower
|Location||Minato, Tokyo, Japan|
|Opening||April 25, 2003|
|Roof||238 m (781 ft)|
|Floor area||724,000 m2 (7,790,000 sq ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Kohn Pedersen Fox was the Design Architect of the building, The Jerde Partnership was the Associate Architect for the Building|
Constructed by building tycoon Minoru Mori, the mega-complex incorporates office space, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafés, movie theaters, a museum, a hotel, a major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheater, and a few parks. The centerpiece is the 54-story Mori Tower. Mori's stated vision was to build an integrated development where high-rise inner-urban communities allow people to live, work, play, and shop in proximity to eliminate commuting time. He argued that this would increase leisure time, quality of life, and benefit Japan's national competitiveness. Seventeen years after the design's initial conception, the complex opened to the public on April 25, 2003.
The development 
Roppongi Hills cost over $4 billion and is built on a 27 acre (109,000 m²) site. The site amalgamated more than 400 smaller lots Mori acquired over 14 years.
Mori Tower 
Mori Tower is a 54-story high-rise building designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox that houses an art museum, restaurants, cafes, clinics, stores, the offices of Barclays Capital, Ferrari Japan, Goldman Sachs, J-WAVE, Konami, salesforce.com, Time Inc., Chevron, Allen & Overy, BASF, Lenovo, Baidu, GREE, BP, SAS Institute and Google. The Pokémon Company has its headquarters in the Mori Tower.
The first six levels of Mori Tower contain retail stores and restaurants. The top six floors house the Mori Art Museum and the Tokyo City View with panoramic views of the city. A new exit from Roppongi Station empties into a glass atrium filled with large television screens and escalators, as well as several shops and restaurants. The rest of the building is office space.
Other buildings 
Around the Mori Tower are several smaller buildings predominantly occupied by shops and restaurants, a cinema complex, and the Mori Garden. Behind the Mori Tower lies the Roppongi Keyakizaka Street which has cafes and luxury stores such as Louis Vuitton. Nearby are the four Roppongi Hills Residences towers, with a total of 793 luxurious and very expensive residential apartments.
Large open spaces have been built into the design of Roppongi Hills. About half of the area consists of gardens, pavilions, and other open spaces. The Mohri Garden, an elaborate and authentic Japanese garden complete with a pond and trees is particularly popular. The Mohri Garden is a part of a lost mansion that housed members of the feudal Mohri clan.
On Roppongi Hills the exhibition of the United Buddy Bears was shown in 2005 for the first time in Japan. The exhibition was opened by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Horst Köhler, together with the Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi. According to the Mori-Group, project partners in Tokyo, they were able to count 3 million visitors over the 6 weeks of the exhibition.
Revolving door fatality 
The first year of operations was marred when a six-year-old boy, Ryo Mizokawa, was killed on March 26, 2004 after his head was crushed by revolving doors at the second-floor entrance to Mori Tower in the Roppongi Hills complex. He had been visiting the complex with his mother from Osaka. It was discovered that the sensors were placed too high, and therefore, the boy was not "visible" to the safety system.
As a result of the accident, Mori Building Co., the operator of the building, agreed to pay the boy's family around 70 million yen ($715,330) in compensation and to undertake safety precautions to prevent similar incidents in the future. The automatic revolving doors were removed and replaced with automatic sliding doors.
Unknown to the authorities, the accident was preceded by 32 injuries related to the doors. An investigation by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police into professional negligence by Mori Building Co. and the door's manufacturer, Sanwa Tajima Corp. resulted in the conviction of three former executives for professional negligence.
Criticism and conflict in Roppongi Hills 
Roppongi Hills Arena is a facility with large outdoor speakers, in proximity to older housing. Since the construction of the Roppongi Hills development, complaints of noise pollution from older residents have been ignored by Mori Building management, according to residents. The building most directly suffering from noise is on top of an embankment opposite the Arena. Residents claim several residents have been forced out by the noise.
Commentator Henry Hilton of the Japan Today news website criticized the development when he argued:
- "Yet the truth is that the crowds are unlikely to return once they have been exhausted by the charade of inconvenient walkways that appear almost intentionally to confuse all but those with perfect map navigational skills. The whole maze is far from being user friendly—don't count on full protection from autumn showers or sudden gusts of wind generated by the buildings themselves."
Financial issues 
Mori Building has financed the project with $800 million equity and $1.3 billion in debt from a syndicate of banks led by the Development Bank of Japan. As a result, the company's overall debts are $5.6 billion, secured by billions more in assets.
Goldman Sachs & Co., the project's anchor tenant, attracted deep discounts in rental prices because of the large amount of space it occupies. Japan's sluggish economy, staff cuts by foreign companies, and the flow of new office space have put downward pressure on rents.
Because of conservative eminent domain law in Japan, several past residents of the site that would be Roppongi Hills have been given residential units in the complex in return for their agreement to vacate their prior homes, so that their prior homes would be demolished and the land use for the development of Roppongi Hills.
The Tokyo Midtown, which is Tokyo's latest mixed-use development project, is built less than a kilometer from the borders of Roppongi Hills. As it will incorporate Tokyo's tallest building, a sizable park, and a museum, in addition to a complex of residential and offices, it was expected that this project would increase the competition for customers upon the opening. However, as of January 2008, the Tokyo commercial real estate market is still suffering from insufficient capacity and occupancy rates throughout the city are at record highs.
See also 
Jerde-associated architectural projects in Japan:
- The Jerde Partnership
- Bremner, Brian. "Rethinking Tokyo." BusinessWeek. November 4, 2002. Retrieved on May 11, 2009.
- "会社概要." The Pokémon Company. Retrieved on October 5, 2009.
- [dead link]
- German Consulate General Osaka-Kobe, Press July 15th, 2005
- Roppongi Sakurazaka Residence is a part of the Mori Building's development project in Roppongi but not officially located in the Roppongi Hills.
- Inheritance, noise woes and pet travel | The Japan Times Online
- [dead link]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Roppongi Hills|
- Official Roppongi Hills website
- Controversy rages about Roppongi Hills
- Roppongi Hills Map
- Virtual Tour of Roppongi Hills
- Matsutani, Minoru, "Roppongi Hills: As status symbol, it tops the rest, Roppongi Hills an allure for the trendy, the scandalous, and those curious about both", Japan Times, November 10, 2009, p. 3.