Architecture Meme —> Five Buildings 3/5 —>Imperial Hotel


Frank Lloyd Wright was one of America’s greatest architects; some would even go so far as to call him the greatest American architect. He is best known for his works such as the Kaufmann House/Falling Water, his prairie style homes, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. However, the Imperial Hotel is one of my favorite works by him. Wright was a huge fan of Japanese art and collected art himself, so when he saw an opportunity to get a commission in Tokyo, Japan, he seized it. In 1916 he received the commission for the hotel and sought to combine traditional Japanese architecture with Western motifs. When a powerful earthquake later struck in 1923, it was one of the only things left standing, to Wright’s everlasting pride and joy:

September 8, 1923

Dear Mr. Wright,

The first shock was enough to lay many buildings flat, and … the second shock easily leveled what the first had loosened…Fire billowed from every house and those people who survived the crush and sought places of safety out in the open were killed by the smoke and scorching hot air, roasted by hundreds and thousands.

All steel buildings proved fatal, enough to show that our architects were fools.

What a glory it is to see the Imperial standing amidst the ashes of a whole city!

Glory to you!

Sincerely,
Arata Endo
(Sab Shimono)

Unfortunately, it was demolished in 1968, but the lobby was preserved and recreated at an architecture museum in Nagoya.

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