TOKYO – Wisconsin architect Frank Lloyd Wright's stunning and innovative work brought him commissions all around the globe, and when I travel, I try to make sure I see as many of them as I can.
Like the rainy day in Florida a couple years ago, when looking for something to do, I visited his amazing Florida Southern campus.
On a trip to Tokyo, you know I stopped in at the Imperial Hotel's lounge not only for a cocktail but to see the remnants of Wright's landmark hotel there (demolished and replaced), which are preserved in the bar.
But I also hopped the Metro out to see Wright's Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan ("House of Tomorrow") girls school building, erected in 1921 for Motoko and Yoshikazu Hani, who had founded the school, which had a Christian-based, self reliance focus.
Nestled into a residential neighborhood of narrow streets, the structure is actually three connected buildings (and a nearby auditorium designed by Arata Endo, the Wright assistant who introduced architect and clients), the most striking of which is the central portion with its amazing Prairie Style window.
A pair of classroom wings flanks the main building creating a U-shape that embraces a broad green space.
Inside, the buildings are pure Wright Prairie Style. Outside, the Japanese influence on Wright's work is perhaps more pronounced than in any other of his work.
The school moved in 1934, and alumni continued to use the Wright building, which survived threats of demolition in the 1990s. It has since been restored and has been deemed a National Important Cultural Asset. It continues to be used as an event space and is open to visitors.
Here are images of the Jiyu Gakuen Girls' School Myonichikan:
The school is tucked into a residential neighborhood
An exterior detail
The design is, unsurprisingly, heavily Japanese-influenced
This one ain't half bad, either
A solid fireplace
An extremely elaborate light fixture
Built-in shelves above the fireplace
These don't look especially comfortable
The building is still used today for events
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.