By Terry Trucco
By the time you read this, the last guest will have checked out of the Main Building of the Hotel Okura, and one of Tokyo’s most distinctive (and beloved) mid-century buildings will be shuttered. In the coming weeks, workers will dismantle the 53-year-old structure, prepping it for the wrecker’s ball so a pair of sky-scraping glass towers boasting hotel rooms and commercial space can rise on the site in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Old buildings topple every day to make way for new, particularly in Tokyo, an old city that, thanks to a tumultuous history of earthquakes, fires and wars, doesn’t have much that compares in age to Rome’s basilicas, London’s palaces or Istanbul’s mosques. Still, it never occurred to me that the Okura’s Main Building, a structure of unmatched architecture, history and craftsmanship, was the hotel equivalent of a Sumatran Tiger. (more…)