Not that they’d objected to Ohe’s dramatic proposal or regretted giving it the go-ahead. After all, from a purely aesthetic point of view, the wooden hull helps anchor the stark, see-through building (the largest free-standing glass structure in North America). Still, it’s a mighty big design statement: The hull’s 6,000-square-foot interior is larger than a couple of four-bedroom homes. Could it also be an integral part of daily life for the 1,300 employees who would eventually work in the building? Ohe and the executive team finally decided to use the hull to house Yazaki’s extensive technical library and its vast collection of patent certificates and awards.
Ohe refers to the structure as “a ship of future memories. It symbolizes the entire past of Yazaki as well as the voyage into the new century,” he says. It’s an unorthodox approach: Build a big boat, and then retrofit a use for it. But the hull’s been a hit with employees, who otherwise spend most of their time out in the open, working in what is essentially a big glass cube of a building. Now they can find some solitude and solace in the hull, the only place in Yazaki’s entire headquarters that doesn’t have windows.