American Society of Landscape Architects

  2004 ASLA Professional Awards

Design Award of Merit

Saitama Plaza, Saitama, Japan
Peter Walker & Partners, Berkeley, CA
Ohtori Consultants Environmental Design Institute, Osaka, Japan
NTT Urban Developments Inc., Tokyo, Japan
Client: Saitama Prefecture Government

This project began as a response to an open competition that was held in 1994 for the design of a plaza as the pedestrian core of a newly planned sub-center of greater Tokyo. Built over an existing rail yard, the center was intended to relieve the access congestion to the older central districts of the city and would include a new train station, an arena, the tallest building in Japan, and millions of square feet of new office, residential, and retail space. The plaza design metaphorically borrows a square of the forest surrounding the nearby Hikawa Shrine and places this calm natural element in a perfectly classical grid at the center of the new urban construction. The plaza was conceived as a fifth "elevation" of an otherwise totally glass building, each tree appearing to rise from a steel pillar in the floor below.


Plan - Saitama "Sky Forest" Plaza highlighting all of the plaza level elements (Bands of stone and metal paving, Seating elements. Tree grates glass paving water features and cultural announcement exhibition elements). (Photo: Peter Walker and Partners)

Landscape plan of the tree canopies which define the special outdoor rooms located within the grid of trees. (Photo: Peter Walker and Partners)

Two sections/elevation drawings through different locations of Saitama Plaza indicating the raised soil volume and its revealed location on the exterior elevation of the glass facade of the structure. (Photo: Peter Walker and Partners)

Aerial photo of Saitama Plaza in full fall color providing a welcome arrival space for the visitors to the Saitama Super Arena and for the passengers coming and going the Saitama train station. (Photo: Kazuaki Hosokawa)

Aerial photo of Plaza in summer. (Photo: Kazuaki Hosokawa)

Zelkovas in spring with bands of stone and cast aluminum paving. (Photo: Hiroshi Tanaka)

A conceptual study model of the Plaza's structural system illustrating its unique and elevated paving system. Structural soil planting beds and drainage collection systems. (Photo: Tim Harvey)

A golden canopy of 220 perfectly matched Zelkova trees structures the plaza and produces vibrant colorful patterns on the plaza and its users. (Photo: Hiroshi Tanaka)

Stair and Water Feature to Saitama Plaza - As one ascends the plaza level, exposed layers of soil reveal themselves from behind the glass facade of the retail below. To the right a shimmering cascade of water captures the light from above. (Photo: Hiroshi Tanaka)

Saitama plaza piazza illuminated at night featuring the under lit glass paving from the retail level below. During the winter this space is flooded and turned into an ice rink. (Photo: Kazuaki Hosokawa)

View upwards of the Plaza tree canopy and circulation elements from the retail space below. (Photo: Kazuaki Hosokawa)
Detail of glass wall facade of the Plaza (stone and aluminum cast panels). (Photo: Kazuaki Hosokawa)
Alee of perfectly matched Zelkova trees in winter. (Photo: Kazuaki Hosokawa)

View of the wooden benches with inset panels for cultural announcements in spring. (Photo: Hiroshi Tanaka)
View of the wooden benches through the tree canopy in fall. (Photo: Hiroshi Tanaka)

Awards Press Release |  Awards Home