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No. 4, December 2007
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Making history
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Making History title
Japan's architectural functionalist

Yoshiro Taniguchi (1904–1979) shaped the face and the spirit of Japanese architecture definitively. A graduate of the University of Tokyo, he taught architecture at Tokyo Tech from 1929 to 1965 while maintaining a successful architectural-design office. Taniguchi's early work was avant-garde. One of the buildings that he designed at Tokyo Tech, the Hydraulics Laboratory (1932), remains a striking example of extreme functionality. It was a pioneering instance of Constructivist design in Japan.

Taniguchi was adamant in his devotion to functionality, and he famously lambasted Le Corbusier in 1930 for elitism and inattention to practical concerns. Also characterizing Taniguchi's work, however, was a classical sense of balance. He expressed admiration for the neoclassical works by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Heinrich Tessenow that he saw in Germany in 1938.

A collaboration between Taniguchi and the sculptor Isamu Noguchi resulted in the Shin Banraisha faculty room and garden at Tokyo's Keio University in 1952. That work, dismantled in 2003, was a landmark of postwar modernism in Japanese art and architecture. Taniguchi is the father of Yoshio Taniguchi, a renowned architect who designed New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Peace Pagoda
Model for pagoda
Taniguchi's Peace Pagoda stands in the heart of San Francisco's Japan Center complex. Completed in 1968, it was a gift to San Francisco from the people of Osaka. The influential architectect's model for the pagoda is on display in Tokyo Tech's Centennial Hall.
National Museum of Modern Art
Japan's National Museum of Modern Art, another work by Taniguchi, opened in Tokyo in 1969.
Shimazaki Toson Memorial Hall
Taniguchi asserted his aesthetic in traditional architectural forms, as well as in modern forms. A sterling example is the Shimazaki Toson Memorial Hall, in the old post town of Magome, Gifu Prefecture. Completed in 1947, the hall commemorates the eponymous novelist (1872–1943), who was born in Magome.
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