Alan Y. Taniguchi
Alan Yamato Taniguchi (1922–1998) was an architect, educator, and advocate. He overcame racism and discrimination to become a leader in his field.
Originally from California, Taniguchi was a student at UC-Berkley when Executive Order 9066 was issued by FDR on February 19 just months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Order called for the forced removal and incarceration of nearly 122,000 Japanese American men, women, and children, who were assembled and evacuated to internment camps throughout the U.S. The Taniguchi family was sent to internment in Crystal City, TX relocated to the Gila Relocation Camp in Arizona.
After the war, Alan Taniguchi resumed his studies at UC-Berkeley and graduated with a degree in architecture and worked in for architectural firms in the Bay Area. His parents returned to Texas to become vegetable and cotton farmers outside Los Indios, Texas.
In 1950, Taniguchi and his wife relocated to Harlingen, where he designed several prominent modern homes and buildings throughout the region and state, including the exclusive suburb of Laurel Park in Harlingen.
Learn more: Oral History Interview with Alan Taniguchi, March 18, 1995; Denton, Texas. University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, crediting UNT Oral History Program.
Laurel Park in Harlingen
Taniguchi was in high demand during the 1950s working with various home builders in Harlingen while also commuting to Austin to teach at The University of Texas.
Laurel Park was Harlingen’s first garden suburban neighborhood built in the 1950s for developer and entrepreneur John W. McKelvey. And it is notable that Taniguchi designed homes in this neighborhood where he was prohibited from living.
As was common practice in the U.S., deed restrictions included racial covenants which restricted “any person or any descendant of any person of the following nationalities or races, to wit: Negro, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese” from buying, residing, or occupying properties in Laurel Park. This practice was outlawed in 1949.
Learn more about Laurel Park via Docomo.
Buildings of 1961
The year 1961 was a significant one for Taniguchi: he accepted a full-time faculty appointment at UT, was recognized by the Texas Society of Architects, and partnered with Valley architect Charles B. Croft. The pair designed several award-winning buildings in the Rio Grande Valley, including the Casa del Sol (1961), House of Mo-Rose Packing Shed (1961), and the first air-conditioned school, PSJA Senior High School (1961)
Educator & Advocate
Alan Taniguchi relocated to Austin to establish his own firm in 1968. Alan Taniguchi served as Dean of the UT School of Architecture (1969–1972) and director for the architecture program at Rice University (1972–1979).
In 1978, Taniguchi led a $2M Fort Ringgold Campus Recycle Project to redesign buildings at the for Rio Grande City CISD to serve as a community school. In 1997, as recipient of the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award, Taniguchi was recognized for his contributions to architecture education as well as diversity and social advocacy by the American Institute of Architects.
Learn more about Taniguchi's contributions to the Valley from Norman Rozeff via RGVMOD.
Alan Y. Taniguchi, FAIA, 1997. Whitney M. Young Jr. Award Recipients. The American Institute of Architects.
Alan Taniguchi, PICB 22173. Architectural Archives Oral History Project. Austin History Center, 2015.
Tapia-Gonzalez, Nydia. (2019 Oct 12). Alan Y. Taniguchi and Harlingen's
Mid-Twentieth-Century Architecture. Texas Travel Information Center, crediting RGVMOD.
Rozeff, N. (2006). Two Famous Architects of Harlingen—John York and Alan Taniguchi. MyHarlingen.us (website)