Mori Art Museum
Gluckman Mayner Architects

November 20, 2006 /

Tokyo, Japan

Photo: arcspace

The Mori Art Museum occupies the top five floors of the 54-story Mori Tower, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, in the new Tokyo district of Roppongi Hills.

The project by Gluckman Mayner Architects includes the Atrium Lobby, the Art Museum, and the Tokyo City View, an observation deck and promenade with panoramic views of the city.

Photo: arcspace
Tokyo City View promenade.

Photo: arcspace
Tokyo City View promenade.

The "Museum Cone," a separate structure at the base of the tower, provides a distinct and iconic entrance to the Museum.

Photo: arcspace

A concrete "funnel" at the center, containing passenger elevators, provides the main vertical support for the building. Fitted from the rim of the concrete canopy is a delicate frame of horizontal rings held in situ by a diagonal net of stainless-steel cables.

Model photo courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

The gentle, sweeping spiral stair, coiling around the "funnel," overlooks the historic Japanese Garden as it connects five levels, including garden access, and the pedestrian plaza, and Museum bridge.

Photo: arcspace

The structure is clad in glass shingles, printed with a translucent ceramic frit pattern, that overlap to provide protection against the elements. At night the structure glows softly, like a paper lantern.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

A glazed footbridge take visitors from the pavilion to the lower lobby where high speed elevators lead to the Art Museum on the 52nd and 53rd floors, and to Tokyo City View. The museum bookshop and a cafe is located in the lower lobby.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

At the moment of our visit the lobby was rather dark as a large screen was showing clips of videos by Bill Viola, one of the world's leading video artists, who is having his first retrospective in Asia through January 7, 2007.

Photo: arcspace
Bill Viola "The Greeting" 1995

Because the tower's complex elevator system placed the museum's visitor lobby one floor above the main pedestrian arrival level, and the site plan presented a dense mix of varied commercial uses, the "Museum Cone" acts both as a beacon for site navigation and a signifier for the cultural components located within the tower.

The rough red Indian sandstone of the Upper Atrium gives character and texture to its soaring walls. Thin planes of brightly colored glass animate public gathering and circulation spaces. Pale blue plastic denotes ticketing and information counters.

Photo: arcspace

With no permanent collection the Mori Art Museum displays eclectic exhibitions of paintings, photography, fashion and architecture.

The museum galleries are designed as straightforward rectangular boxes, simplifying circulation and providing ideal spaces for art.

Photo: arcspace

The Architecture Museum's galleries on the 52nd floor form a sequence of inwardly focused spaces, while the two Art and Technology galleries, enclosed in translucent glass, float above the 52nd floor observation decks and extend to the very edge of the building, offering a spectacular view of the city.

Model photo courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects

Model photo courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects

The flexible L-shaped design can be divided into two different arrays of rectangles; a long one with a small one next to it, or a square one with a rectangle next to it.

Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects
Museum Plan

Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects
Museum Section

Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects
Lower Lobby Plan

Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects
Cone Section

Drawing courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects
Mori Tower Section

Photo: arcspace
Site Model

There is a conceptual grasp of multi-use tall buildings and "a culture of giving things back" to the community. The two urges came together at the Mori Tower in Tokyo with an art gallery at its summit. Its architects Kohn Pedersen Fox are brilliant designers of tall buildings, able to represent different programmatic components in very large buildings. Designing the gallery we knew we would have to do something to exploit the condition on top of the building. We couldn't build a closed-in box.

/Richard Gluckman

The Mori Art Museum, together with The National Art Center, and the the new Suntory Museum of Art, opening in Spring of 2007, will form the "Art Triangle Roppongi," establishing Roppongi as one of Tokyo's major cultural centers.

Facts about Mori Art Museum

Total area:

100,000 ft2

Gluckman Mayner Architects


Richard Gluckman

FAIA Project Manager:

Sam Brown
Dana Tang

Design Team:

Anya Bokov
Eric Chang
Mark Fiedler
Caroline Foug
Bobby Han
Alex Hurst
Julie Torres Moskovitz
Taro Narahara
Jasmit Rangr
Kaori Sato
Suzanne Song
Esther Tso

Associate Architect:
Irie Miyake Architects & Engineers, Tokyo, Japan

Structural Design:

Dewhurst Marcfarlane and Partners

Lighting Design:

Shozo Toyohisa (Kiltplan)

Mechanical design:

Altieri Sebor Wieber


Mori Building Co.

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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