September 10, 2018 – Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura has confirmed that the team led by Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. (MEC) will design the Umekita Second Development Zone, considered the last prime real estate in Osaka. Osaka is the second-largest metropolitan area in Japan, and the 59-acre (24 ha) Umekita site is located in front of the Osaka rail station, part of a five-station major transit hub, adjacent to the internationally known Umeda Sky Building by Hiroshi Hara. The team, led by MEC, is composed of nine developers and six design and operation firms, including Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). The team was selected after a six-month long competition run by the Urban Renaissance Agency with a jury that included Tadao Ando.
In speaking to the media, Mayor Yoshimura noted, “This site has been described as the last prime real estate at the center of Osaka and the Kansai region. The Umekita Second Phase Development is an extremely important project for City of Osaka.”
Shannon Nichol, a founding principal of GGN, said:
“We are honored to have the opportunity to work on such an important site for the City of Osaka and Japan – and with an exceptionally talented team of collaborators and clients. The Osaka Midori Life concept inspires us to imagine a new kind of park and vibrant neighborhood, where life is centered around an immersion in nature while also benefiting from the cultural energy of the exceptional passenger-rail systems that converge within this central site.
“Osaka – as both an innovative, world-leading city and a place distinguished with important history, creative culture, and style – is an exciting place to be designing within and to be designing for.
Kathryn Gustafson, a founding principal of GGN added:
“We took inspiration from the history of the Japanese garden, the history of Osaka, and the natural environment. We’re impressed by the decision to put this large open space at the very hub of the city – this is key to this space contributing to a healthy, urban environment for the future.
“We are creating a range of unique landscape spaces within the site. Some will be very tranquil, reflective, and contemplative – while others will be very active, interactive, and social. An open east-west spine will be the connector between the two neighborhoods with different vendors who will offer daily amenities. We will also design the adjacent streets with characteristics that will further brings the landscape park into the neighborhoods to create a large environmental impact throughout the area.”