Sunday, January 31, 2010

Earthquakes, Architecture, and Human Frailty

Tonight on CBS' 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney talked about his father's experience as a survivor of the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake in Tokyo. Rooney also showed some examples of photographs that his father took while in Japan, and made some comparisons of them to the recent calamity in Haiti.

Rooney also credited his father's staying in Tokyo's Imperial Hotel as a potential factor in his survival. In 1923 the Imperial had just been opened, and its architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, had designed the structure with specific features that, while not preventing some major damage, left the building largely intact.

The building was demolished in 1968, but a good portion of the lobby is preserved in a Japanese architecture museum. As was his usual practice with many clients, Wright not only designed the structure, but many of the interior components such as furniture, right down to the place settings.

Rooney has the unique ability to impart significant messages into what might otherwise be considered whimsy or nostalgia. You'll see what I mean.

Have a good start to the week.

Photo Credits: Wikipedia (Hotel exterior and interior)
The AMICA Library (place setting)

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