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You Can Take a Virtual Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Demolished Imperial Hotel in Tokyo

Ellen Gutoskey
Wright's Imperial Hotel circa 1935.
Wright's Imperial Hotel circa 1935. / Hulton Archive/GettyImages
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The Japanese city of Inuyama is home to Meiji Mura, an expansive open-air museum where visitors can tour some five dozen of the Meiji Period’s most distinctive buildings. During the era, which began with a political coup in 1868 and lasted until 1912, Japan was greatly influenced by Western architecture. One Western architect represented at the museum is Frank Lloyd Wright, who was tapped to reimagine Tokyo’s existing Imperial Hotel in the early 1910s. 

The Fallingwater architect blended Japanese design elements with his trademark Mayan Revival flair to build an H-shaped, 250-room hotel that featured a type of lava rock known as oya. According to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, it was also “engineered on a floating foundation with reinforced steel” that helped protect the edifice from earthquakes. 

The new and improved Imperial Hotel opened to guests in 1923, but was torn down in the late 1960s so an even newer and more improved version could be built in its place. However, a couple key parts of Wright’s design survived: the lobby and reflecting pool. These were relocated to Meiji Mura, where you can still see them today.

Seeing the rest of the hotel as it stood in Wright’s heyday is possible, too, though not exactly in 3D. As My Modern Met reports, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust used photographs, blueprints, and other archival materials to produce a 13-minute virtual tour of the entire estate. The video is part of a project called Frank Lloyd Wright: The Lost Works, which “brings Wright’s demolished and unrealized structures to life through immersive digital animations,” according to the trust’s website.

Explore more of Wright’s Imperial Hotel for yourself below.

[h/t My Modern Met]

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