I joined Takenaka on graduation, after studying urban planning in graduate school. I wanted to be involved in creating landmark urban architecture.
In 2008, after a year of training, I went to work in the Project Development Department where I have been involved in large development projects such as redevelopment, PFI and corporate real estate utilization—which give me the satisfaction of creating effective solutions with various internal and external stakeholders.
Takenaka is more than just another “construction” company. On the one hand, we have to consider what we call the “tangible” aspects of architecture, such as the kind of building which should be built—on the other, the many “intangible” aspects, which include the needs of tenants and users of facilities, not to mention, the most appropriate measures for implementing a project successfully, taking account such things as contracts and subcontracts, and financial planning.
I find my reward lies in meeting the challenge of the multiple issues, working closely with, and drawing on the ideas, experience and expertise of the many people and groups involved, inside and outside the company.
In 2015, the company wanted to explore a new field of business and held a competition to collect ideas from employees. I decided to participate as part of a diverse team from Development Planning, Design, Business Promotion, and other divisions. Our job was to draw up a plan for a new project which would take advantage of the unique capabilities of our company. Our “Legacy Utilization Project” proposed preserving and restoring buildings of historical and cultural importance and preventing them from being lost to future generations. We suggested that one way to protect such buildings was to give them commercial value as hotels, restaurants and offices.
Takenaka believes that architecture can be of immense social value.
In 2015, our proposal won the competition. A year later, in 2016, we got to work in earnest. Thanks to the cooperation and support of many people both within and without the company, the project was completed successfully.
The first thing we had to do was to collect information on the buildings we wanted to preserve as legacy properties. This required investigation.
We had to develop practicable schemes to handle things such as risk management, and commercial revenue and the like. After getting internal approval, we started investigation of target legacy properties.
Former Residence of Mankichi Yamaguchi
—the Mankichi Yamaguchi Residence
While looking for legacy properties for our project, we found an unusual Spanish style building in Kudanshita in Tokyo—the over 90 year old residence of Mankichi Yamaguchi—a wealthy Taisho era businessman known for his knowledge and understanding of Western architecture and arts. After about a year of negotiations with Tokyu Corporation and Toho Leo, Takenaka was able to lease the property with the intention of renovating and repurposing it as a members-only business innovation center, in which form it opened its doors in September 2018.
Takenaka not only renovated the building and redesigned it for its new role. We were a tenant, too, which added the perspective of a user to our involvement and helped us in our collaboration with the many groups and people involved.
The trend in business is for companies to innovate new technologies and services with the goal of reinventing themselves. Construction and real estate are, in my opinion, no exception. As the pace of change accelerates, we need to respond faster and more flexibly. It is important to be at the center of what’s going on.
The foundation, of course, is the company itself. The challenge lies in discovering new value through development projects which bring everyone involved together, collaboratively. The Project Development Department can play a leadership role in promoting this synergy. From a personal point of view, I hope to add value to this process as I gain skills and experience working with the many people involved, informed by their ideas, knowledge and expertise. This will help me be more responsive to emerging social trends.