By  on May 4, 2009

TOKYO — The Ao building, a newly opened retail and dining complex, makes quite an architectural statement — one its retail tenants hope can lure shoppers despite Japan’s downtrodden economy.

The 16-story tower is an asymmetrical feat of engineering, particularly in earthquake-prone Japan. A triangular sliver is cut away from its rectangular form, and the upper floors are actually larger than those beneath them. The glass-paneled structure defies gravity, thanks to an elaborate network of 60 shock-absorbing dampers. The entire complex is even more dramatic at night, when it’s illuminated by colored lights.

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