The main ceremonies and sporting events took place in a nothing special stadium that has since been demolished. In Komazawa Olympic Park in Setagaya, a control tower designed by Yoshinobu Ashihara took the form of a concrete tree 165 feet high; he’s still standing, though his brutalist candor has been softened by a coat of white paint. It was, however, the somewhat smaller Yoyogi Stadium, designed by Tange – who would go on to build Tokyo’s towering City Hall and its Sofia Coppola-approved Park Hyatt Hotel – that concretely expressed what Kamekura and the others did. designers did it on paper.
In 1964, Tange Stadium hosted the swimming, diving and basketball events, and its marriage of strength and dynamism broadcast more than anything that Japan had been restored, if not reborn. From the outside, it looks like two poorly assembled halves of a sliced pair, made of steel and concrete, although its real innovation has been the roof. Its tensile structure is inspired by Eero Saarinen’s recently completed hockey rink at Yale University and, even more, the Philips pavilion at the Brussels World’s Fair, designed in 1958 by his hero Le Corbusier.
More leisurely, the gymnasium nods to Tange’s most significant work so far: the arch of the Hiroshima Cenotaph, another curve of reinforced concrete. In Hiroshima, the concrete arc of Tange has become a mausoleum for the darkest hour in Japan; in Tokyo, he closed a festival of new national life. (Hiroshima’s legacy also permeated the opening ceremony, where sprinter Yoshinori Sakai – born August 6, 1945, the day the first atomic bomb fell – lit the cauldron.)