Buildings in Odaiba completed before 1995: Tokyo International Exhibition Center

The Tokyo International Exhibition Center, also known as the Tokyo Big Sight, is Japan’s largest convention venue[2]. It was completed in 1995 and officially opened in 1996. Located in the Ariake district on Tokyo Bay, it has an iconic Conference Tower that was visually distinctive.

Tokyo Big Sight was a planned venue for the 2020 Summer Olympics[1]. It will host a few events including wrestling, fencing and taekwondo. It might also host the main broadcasting centre and press centre of the Games as there was a cutting of public funds.

The construction of the building was handled by 8 contractors in total with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Finance as the client. One of the contractors was Hazama and Shimizu Corporations. Construction began in October 1992 and was finished in October 1995. The total contract was worth 40,392 million yen. 45% of that sum went to Hazama, the sole contractor of the Tower segment[2].

The Governor of Tokyo Shunichi Suzuki was present at the 1994 lifting-up ceremony on June 30, which initiated the raising the Tower’s 6500-ton main structure above ground, a process which took three days to complete using a computer-guided system that precisely jacked the structure up into place. A 250-ton aerial escalator was installed later to formally link the raised structure to the ground floors.

The architectural element most associated with the Tokyo Big Sight name, the glass and titanium-panelled Conference Tower appears as a set of four inverted pyramids mounted upon large supports[1]. The first floor comprises an 1100-seat reception hall and four conference rooms of varying size. The second floor comprises the Entrance Plaza which is the main access area, the glass-roofed Event Plaza, the Entrance Hall which leads to the exhibition halls proper, and the Exhibition Plaza. There are no floors three through five due to the structure’s above-ground stature.


[1]Fadzli Zubi, “Designing for a New Urban Image: Odaiba Waterfront City, Tokyo”, Thinking Spaces for Making Places, (The University of Tokyo,2007), 1-10.

[2]Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Development and Redevelopment of Urban Areas, (TMG, 2013), 69-103.

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