About Frank Lloyd Wright: Life and Career Residential Designs Public Buildings

Imperial Hotel
Tokyo, Japan, 1915

Image of the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo
Imperial Hotel, Tokyo

Image of the Imperial Hotel ballroom
Ballroom of Imperial Hotel
Wright traveled to Japan in 1905. Japanese friends and colleagues would later recommend him as architect to the committee that wanted to build a new Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Japan was emerging from centuries of isolation into the modern world, and the committee in Tokyo wanted a forward-looking design for the hotel that would represent Japan to the world. Designing and building the hotel took eight years, during which Wright traveled between Japan and America. Wright designed the building around a central courtyard with a reflecting pool so that the hotel rooms would have a lovely view and the guests would feel isolated from the city around them. Wright found that Japan had a type of soft lava stone called Oya that could be carved with very intricate patterns, and he used it throughout the entire structure. Wright created impressive spaces to emphasize the exclusive nature of the hotel. The central lobby was three stories tall. The dining room and ballroom were each two stories tall.

Image of the Imperial Hotel lobby
Lobby of Imperial Hotel
Wright had trouble getting some of his ideas approved through the building committee, including the reflecting pool and an innovative structural system that Wright claimed would keep the Hotel from falling apart in an earthquake. He finally got his way, and the Imperial Hotel was made famous when it survived a devastating earthquake in 1923. The water from the reflecting pool was used to keep the Hotel wet and prevent it from burning in the fires that blazed through the city after the earthquake. Wright's innovations had saved the building and made it famous in Japan and America.

Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust
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