Alan Y. Taniguchi and Harlingen's Mid-Twentieth-Century Architecture

Texas Travel Information Center

2021 W Harrison Ave
Harlingen, TX
US
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Alan Y. Taniguchi, born in Stockton CA, was quiet, relaxed, and affable. Taniguchi reassured. Because of his Japanese ancestry, Taniguchi had suffered the internment of his parents in a U.S. government concentration camp in Crystal City TX while he fought in the war. When the war ended, Taniguchi’s father, Isamu Taniguchi, a Japanese immigrant, and his relatives, the Tanamachis, elected not to return to California but to relocate to the small river settlements of Los Indios and Bluetown, south of Harlingen, to farm. Alan Taniguchi went to architecture school at the University of California, Berkeley, and worked for the Bay Area architect Jack Hillmer and Anshen & Allen before deciding to join his family in south Texas in 1952.

His buildings, like his personality, were relaxed. In 1961 Taniguchi entered a partnership with Charles B. Croft. Taniguchi & Croft gained swift recognition for their experimentation with thin shell, hyperbolic paraboloid concrete construction, producing buildings that were much more formally assertive.

In 1961 he was recruited to teach at the University of Texas at Austin. Like York at OU, Taniguchi stayed at UT, becoming professor, then dean of architecture. Conflict with the UT administration caused Taniguchi to leave UT in 1972 to become director of the school of architecture at Rice University, where he remained until his retirement from teaching in 1979. In Austin, Taniguchi had been a partner in the well-regarded firm of Taniguchi Shefelman Vackar Minter. After retiring from Rice, Taniguchi returned to Austin to practice with his son, Evan, who still maintains the Taniguchi office.

This tour, hosted by RGVMod and Harlingen MOD, will take participants through the Harlingen area to see buildings by Alan Y. Taniguchi around the city and will stop to visit several locations. The work of other architects from that era will also be pointed out. The group will visit two Taniguchi homes in Laurel Park and enjoy refreshments and drinks.

Taniguchi and his family did not live in Laurel Park. The deed restrictions in Laurel Park specifically excluded “any person or any descendant of any person of the following nationalities or races, to wit: Negro, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese,” even though the restrictions were filed in 1949, the year after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed the use of deed restrictions for the purpose of racial exclusion. However, such attitudes did not seem to harm Taniguchi’s professional opportunities.

 

Tour participants will meet at 12:45 p.m. at the Texas Travel Information Center located at 2021 W Harrison Ave, Harlingen, TX 78552. The van will leave at 1:00 p.m and will return to the TTIC at 5:30 p.m.

$18 members/$20 non-members

To register, email RGVMod@gmail.com with the subject line "Register." In the email, state your name, phone number, and the number of people in your party. 

For more information contact Nydia Tapia-Gonzalez at 956-202-1392 or RGVMod@gmail.com