Tokyo International Forum
5-1 Marunouchi 3-chome
Tokyo 100-0005

Rafael Vinoly 1996

Located on a complex site in the center of Tokyo, on the edge of the Ginza commercial and entertainment district and the Maronouchi business district, The Tokyo International Forum is Japan's largest congress center. It was built following an open international competition in 1989 held by the Union Internationale des Architectes, which was won by the New York architect Rafeal Vinoly.

The irregular shaped site, occupying an entire city block that was originally occupied by a complex of buildings constituting Tokyo’s City Hall, is also situated between two of Tokyo’s busiest transportation hubs; Yurakucho Station on the site’s southern boundary, one of the city’s most important subway stations and Tokyo Central Station, two blocks to the north, that is the city’s regional and national railway link.

The sweeping form of the volume that contains the Glass Hall, the main entrance lobby to the entire complex, forms an arc that follows the lines of the bounding railway to the east. This volume is intersected on its east side by a lower narrow rectangular curving volume clad in metal which houses meeting rooms. The west side of the complex is demarcated by four almost cubical volumes, arranged sequentially in size, from the largest on the longer northern boundary to smallest on the shorter southern boundary. These four volumes contain Halls A, C and D, which contain large performance spaces and Hall B which contains a versatile conference room. Each of these volumes is treated as an independent building, primarily accessed through their respective lobbies along the adjacent street, but also accessed through the Glass Hall where a pedestrian ramp lines the interior perimeter winding its way up to pedestrian bridges that pierce its glass facade and span an exterior plaza located between the east and west side buildings toward the performance hall’s suspended volumes.


The granite-paved exterior plaza between the arc form and the cubes is a public plaza that allows pedestrian traffic flow through the site. This public plaza also contains vegetation particular to Japan, sculptural installations, outdoor seating areas, access to the subway concourse one level below grade, cafes and shops, while allowing access to the performance hall lobbies and to the Glass Hall.

Immediately upon entry to the Glass Hall from the plaza the visitor descends down an escalator one level to the information desk and to access the rest of The Forum. The soaring space of the Glass Hall, to 60 meters high, is animated by a constant flow of people and events. Its crisscrossing pedestrian bridges at its upper levels and its enormous scale seem like something out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.


The structural system of this dramatic atrium space is extremely light, its transparent facade and ceiling made possible by an innovative truss system of arched steel beams in compression and cable elements in tension in repetition over its 225 meter length, all supported by only two columns located on the center of the longitudinal axis at each end of the hall. This hull-like form of the ceiling structure seen through the laminated glass facade creates a distinctive mark on the Tokyo skyline.

Kari Silloway 2004


How to visit

The Forum is a one-minute walk from Yurakucho Station (connected by B1 concourse) or a five-minute walk from JR Tokyo Station (connected by B1 concourse with Keiyo Line at Tokyo Station).

For opening hours and other visitor information please visit or telephone +81 3-5221-9000.

Books and other websites

The official website of Rafael Vinoly Architects is at

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