High Drama, Part 2: History lives again at Marunouchi Park Building
Completed in 2009, the 34-story Marunouchi Park Building looks right at home in Tokyo’s 21st-century skyline. It houses the headquarters of Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metals Corp., as well as part of the headquarters of the Mitsubishi Corp.
But it’s not just another shiny glass high-rise. When you approach it on foot, your first impression is likely to be of old-fashioned red bricks, hearkening back to the Meiji era (1868-1912). In her book “Meiji Revisited: The Sites of Victorian Japan,” the late architectural historian Dallas Finn wrote that the Meiji government invited a number of Western architects to Japan in the 1870s to share their techniques with Japanese builders – with “the clear understanding that they were to train their pupils as quickly as possible and leave.”
One who managed to stick around was Josiah Conder of Britain, who arrived in 1877 and “proved too valuable and well-liked to hustle away,” remaining in Japan until his death in 1920. Conder’s projects included p...