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NOTEBOOK: ISU grads leading Tokyo project. Locals don’t like the name.


The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday about a controversy surrounding Tokyo’s futuristic railway station, Takanawa Gateway, a project that involves Pickard Chilton, a New Haven, Conn., firm founded by two 1976 architecture graduates of Iowa State University.

The controversy involves the word “Gateway.” The Journal said 48,000 people have signed a petition asking the name be changed because “Gateway” is difficult for Japanese to pronounce.

The newspaper said the name was chosen to attract overseas businesses and quoted a local official as saying locals would “get used to it.”

The partnership of Des Moines native Jon Pickard and his ISU classmate William Chilton designed the master plan for the 32-acre Tokyo railway project, which will include seven tall buildings, which Chilton said would line up on the site like islands of the Japanese archipelago.

The railway station is set to open in March. Construction on the rest of the $5 billion development, including a signature tower designed by Pickard Chilton, will begin after this summer’s Tokyo Olympics with completion planned for 2024.

To see an example of Pickard Chilton’s work in Des Moines, check out the Wells Fargo Mortgage building at 801 Walnut St. The 10-story, 336,000-square-foot, steel-and-glass office building was completed in 2007 and included a number of energy efficiency innovations.

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