Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan
While working on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Wright was introduced to the Hanis by his Japanese assistant, Arata Endo.
Impressed by the couple’s educational philosophy, Wright agreed to undertake the design of Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School in collaboration with Endo. Wright’s “House of Tomorrow” represents the founders’ desire to give their students a free education in a home-like atmosphere. Built largely to child scale, the complex of four buildings features a central double-height section with soaring windows facing onto an open courtyard. To cut costs, Wright ingeniously exchanged stained glass windows for geometrically patterned wooden window frames, to great visual effect. The central dining hall, with its pendant lamps and wooden beams, is one of the school’s most striking features. Two symmetrical wings with long, low Prairie-style lines flank the main building. Extensive use of the native gray-green Oya stone lends the school a distinctly Japanese feel. Myonichikan was moved to a different campus in 1934 and underwent a two-year renovation in 1999. It remains open to the public as a cultural event space.