After about 40 years in its current location in Yurakucho, The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan plans to move to a new home several blocks up Nakadori in the direction of Tokyo Station to a brand new building to be constructed by the Mitsubishi Group. Those familiar with the area will recognize it as the site of the former Tokyo Kaikan.
For those Members who couldn’t attend the Town Hall event at the FCCJ on Sept. 8 to explain some of the proposed floor plans for the new Club, this article is an attempt to fill in some of the blanks, answer some questions and hopefully generate more debate among the membership about what they want their new Club to look like and what do they want to get out of it. (On these points Anthony Rowley has kindly agreed to pull together a survey of the membership to gather more feedback, so please expect that questionnaire to drop into your email box at some stage.)
The proposed move in date to the fifth and sixth floors of the new building is October 2018. That may seem a long way off, but it’s only about 37 months and counting. The new FCCJ will be about 22 percent larger overall than the current Club. It will look out onto Nakadori and Kajibashidori. We are working on a design that will create a light filled main bar and dining area that will occupy the corner of the fifth floor looking diagonally across to what’s colloquially known as the Marunouchi brick building across the street. This floor running along Kajibashidori will also have an open veranda area with views of the Imperial moat and grounds at one end.
A lot of time, meetings and report writing have already gone into this project in the past year and more by members such as Martin Koelling, Kurt Sieber, Michael Penn, Michael King and many others. And the House & Property Committee has been holding meetings twice a month with Mitsubishi and its interior design unit, MEC Design International.
These meetings have mostly been brainstorming sessions on floor plans that would best serve all the various functions of the Club: its core press conferences, its bar and banqueting, work pods for journalists, an audio visual editing room, a safe and efficient environment for staff and a wonderfully well stocked, comfortable library. Other possibilities include a separate wine bar and a new membership class that would give journalists the option of having a private office space inside the club. We are investigating the potential demand for the latter among Regular Members.
The FCCJ will have exclusive elevators from basement parking areas to the fifth floor, where the main reception will be and the entrance to press conferences, bar and dining areas, as well as other rooms for meetings and smaller banquet places. The elevator to the sixth floor will open into areas to include the journalist work pods, the library and staff offices, along with the proposed locations for the Sushi Bar and Wine Bar.
We are at the point where we will have made some decisions by the end of September on a number of key issues: The location of the kitchen, the location of interior stairs connecting the two floors (this is inside the Club itself; of course, elevators outside the Club premises will also connect the fifth and sixth floors) and the main press conference/banqueting area.
The next most immediate goal is to find and hire a project managing company to represent the FCCJ and ensure that our plans and needs for the new Club are fully communicated to Mitsubishi, and to monitor the construction process. The H&P Committee have now shortlisted two project managers out of five interviewed and are close to making a decision to get one of them hired in the coming weeks, pending Board approval.
Many other items and suggestions came up from staff and members at the Town Hall meeting that we have already relayed to Mitsubishi, and we intend to have more Town Halls on the new Club as the project proceeds. Please do try to attend at some time so the new Club can reflect as much as possible what the members want.
We want the new Club to capture and retain the FCCJ’s history and traditions for all members. It will also need to meet the evolving needs of journalism as technology changes the way content is delivered.
Meantime, if any members have any queries or suggestion about the new Club, please let General Manager Tom Yanagi know and he can forward to the H&P Committee. We have an exciting three years ahead.
As with the Yurakucho Building location, discounted parking will be available. The location is a 4-minute walk from the Chiyoda Line’s Nijubashimae Station and the Hibiya Line’s Hibiya Station, 5 from Yurakucho Station and 9 from Tokyo Station.
Peter Langan is the chair of the FCCJ House & Property Committee.