Kyoto Station – Hiroshi Hara
It takes a second (or perhaps a third or fourth) visit to realize Hiroshi Hara’s achievement at the Kyoto Station. In contrast to the denigrating Kyoto Tower, this new station is well-considered in terms of the circulation of crowds, the connection to the surrounding urban context, and to the underground shop fronts. The underground shopping malls are well-paced, with spacious “courtyards” in-between, accommodating changing programs. One of the impressive characteristics of this building is that, while the exterior of the building looked humongous, once step inside, you don’t feel this tremendous monstrous building as a “mass,” rather you feel yourself wrapped inside a comfortable husk, a thin layer that is called a station. The building itself is also “hallowed out” at the major urban axes—for example, you see a huge cubic void in the middle of the building when you confront the Higashi-Honganji Temple on the the major urban axis Kawamura Street. With this building, “form” or “style” may not be the main concern of the architect, but in every aspect the details are well-thought and the articulation of steel trusses is very powerful. It is as if this busy bustling station building has a live of its own.