The National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) is a graduate school and research institute, established in October 1997. GRIPS aims to be an international centre of excellence for the education of future leaders in the policy arena, for the advancement of policy research, and for the systematic collection and dissemination of policyrelated information. Located in the Roppongi district of central Tokyo, the school is very close to the political and business headquarters of Japan. The adjacent site will be occupied by the new National Gallery designed by Kisho Kurokawa.
This project is one of the first PFI project commissioned by the Japanese government. The cost of the building, management and maintenance cost for 15 years are financed by public money. The school will pay this sum back over a period of 15 years, after which they acquire the building and manage it themselves. The school was initially a state school but now all Japanese government colleges and universities have been partly privatized. RRP’s design responds to the life cycle cost of the building.
The building is formed by two volumes, a 14-storey high-rise block to the west (mostly laboratory space) and a 5-storey lower part (work-shop space and administration) to the east. The area to the west of the high-rise block has been reserved future expansion. This block is stepping down towards north to allow more sunlight to north part of site and to meet strict Japanese right of light regulation. The two blocks are connected by a long and linear glazed atrium, spanned by bridges connecting different departments. A multiple-use lecture hall is located on the ground/ basement level of the high-rise block. The 8.1m grid superstructure of the high-rise block is a pre-cast concrete frame which will accelerate the construction period. Steel bracing at the circulation/services cores are unbonded, absorbing forces by deforming within the constraints of concrete-filled tubing. This reduces the size of bracing required – an important factor in a seismic country such as Japan.
The top level of the lower block has an east-facing undulating roof, designed to maximise daylight. Aluminium louvres, designed to reduce heat gain, are used to clad most of the high-rise façade, but users can still enjoy excellent views over the green spaces of the adjacent Aoyama Cemetery. The remaining façades are clad with terracotta panels. The scheme started on site in September 2003 and the building opened in April 2005.