When the original Hotel Okura opened in 1962, sitting across the street from the United States Embassy, it stood as a symbol of recovery after the devastation Japan endured following World War II. The architect, Yoshiro Taniguchi, planned the lavish destination hotel with a design team appointed by Kishichiro Okura, the founder. Adorned with Japanese-esque figures evoking typical scenes found in the traditional areas, such as plum-blossom-shaped tables and chairs, and futuristic, hexagonal light fixtures, it became a hub for diplomats, journalists, and world leaders, like President Obama. It was also featured in the 1960s James Bond novel "You Only Live Twice."
And despite its cultural roots, with figures like Tomas Maier, the creative director of Bottega Veneta, filming a video memorial and campaigning the hashtag #MyMomentAtOkura, the main building and its signature lobby were demolished in September. And while the South Wing, built in 1973, will be recreated by Yoshio Taniguchi, the original architect's son who redesigned the Museum of Modern Art in New York, preservationists are concerned that Tokyo is demolishing some of their best architectural symbols to make way for the 2020 Olympics and a recent rush of tourism.
To read more about the discussion around this project, go to The New York Times.
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