Many in the design world paid their respects to Tokyo's elegant Hotel Okura, a definitive mid-century creation that married '60s cool with traditional Japanese motifs, when it was partially demolished in September to make way for a billion-dollar renovation. But according to The New York Times, it turns out many of the signature parts of the building lost to remodeling, meant to increase capacity in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics, will be recreated in the updated version of the hotel. Elements of the famous dimly lit lobby, decorated with rich green carpets and lamps cut like paper lanterns, as well as the Orchid Bar, a chic bar frequented by cinema stars and heads of state, will be recreated in the new hotel design. The firms working on the renovation plan to "faithfully reproduce" the wall tapestries, paper lanterns, sliding doors, lacquered furnishings and map of time zones found in the lobby, and incorporate a retro-chic cocktail lounge meant to recall the Orchid Bar's unflappable cool.
According to the article, a number of economic forces contributed to the decision to renovate and expand the hotel, built in 1962 for the previous Tokyo Olympics. A joint project of the Taisei Corporation and Mitsubishi Estate, the current renovation, which necessitated a tear down of the main building and signature lobby, will add 201 rooms and bring the aging structure up to code with modern earthquake-resistant technologies. Tokyo, which faces rising real estate costs and a shortage of hotel rooms, desperately needs space to accommodate visitors before the games, and the expanding cost of land has meant more and more faceless towers are crowding city streets (the renovation will also add 18 stories of office space). While the architect in charge of restoration and renovation, Yoshio Taniguchi, son of the original architect, Yoshiro Taniguchi, said he'll maintain the spirit and feel of the original, many inside and outside of Japan feel an aesthetic treasure has been Irreparably damaged.
∙ In a Renewed Hotel Okura, Japanese Historians Still See a Loss [The New York Times]
∙ Closing Time for the Hotel Okura, a '60s Tokyo Time Capsule [Curbed]
∙ Tokyo's Hotel Okura Auctioning Off Rare Furniture, Décor Items [Curbed]