Jiyu Gakuen School (Myonichikan) Tokyo, 1921
The founders of this girls' school, Motoko and Yoshikazu Hani, were friends of Arata Endo's. To prepare girls to be more productive and self-reliant, they stressed a Christian-oriented creed.
Wright and Arata collaborated so closely on the design for the School of the Free Spirit that the final plans were signed by both of them — the first time Wright had ever shared credit.
Built of economical 2 x 4 wood and plaster, Jiyu Gakuen featured a central section with double-height volume and soaring windows facing south onto an open courtyard, with symmetrical wings on the east and west. It was built to child scale, with an architectural richness belying its budget.
A lengthy battle to save the aging structure was fought in the 1990s, with the Japanese government rewriting its regulations so that the building could be used after being designated an Important Cultural Property in 1997. Myonichikan is only open to the public on rare days when not in use for weddings and other events. (KS)