Born in Fukuoka, Japan, and currently an associate professor at the University of Hyogo in Kobe, Japan, Dr. Yutaka Mizukami has been a Conservancy member since 2014. He is also a member of Japan’s International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) National Committee. Yutaka specializes in architectural history and design. His doctoral thesis for his engineering degree at Kyoto University, “The Architectural Thought of Frank Lloyd Wright,” was published in Japanese in 2013. He also translated an early edition of the Conservancy publication Wright Sites: A Guide to Frank Lloyd Wright Public Places into Japanese. In addition to Wright, Yutaka is also interested in the architecture of Louis Kahn, Alvar Aalto and Le Corbusier.

What is your first experience or earliest memory of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture?
Seeing the Marin County Civic Center in 1990.

What work of architecture that was demolished really affected you in a personal way?
Wright’s Hoffman Auto Showroom in New York. I had not thought a work of Wright’s could be destroyed in this period. [Editor’s note: The Wright-designed interior space was surreptitiously gutted by the building’s owner in 2013 while landmarking efforts were being undertaken.]

Is there one work of Wright’s that has been most important or meaningful to you?
Yamamura House in Ashiya, Japan. As a board member, I am undertaking the renovation program of the Yamamura House for the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

What have you enjoyed most about being a member of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy?
The tours of residences which are usually not open to the public.

How strong is Wright’s legacy in Japan today?
Wright is known for loving and understanding Japan more than the Japanese. And he advocated the modern world that confronted the situation of international style. It means he shows us the way to break down the status quo in the manner of us, that is not the superficial design but the philosophy within.

In what ways is his influence felt?
Many Japanese have a feeling of nostalgia in his space. That is the phenomenon of primordial Japanese philosophy of intimate relationship between the human nature and Nature.

Are many young architects or architecture scholars in Japan influenced by Wright?
Young architects are looking for sustainable, ubiquitous and natural ways of living. It will be our business to show them that Wright’s way—not superficial design but the philosophy within—illustrates what they are looking for.

Do you think it is easier or harder to preserve historic architecture in Japan or the United States?
When it comes to modern architecture in Japan, it is hard for civic movements to overcome political or near-sighted economical power. I have a desire to learn from the many attempts to preserve historic architecture in the U.S.

Posted February 23, 2017