William A. Black House

Lake Drive – 1953, Alan Y. Taniguchi

This is an early house by Taniguchi. Built in the Matz-Leggett Addition, an elite but scenically nondescript subdivision north of downtown Harlingen, it is nonetheless an astounding work.

The house is built on a lot where Lake Drive makes a bend. In response to the curve of the street, Taniguchi bent (or, perhaps more accurately, folded) the house in plan in response to this curve. This gives the low-key house a degree of spatial complexity that shows how inventive Taniguchi and York were at exploiting the most minimal site features in order to create spatial surprise and variation.

Taniguchi’s interior exposure of the house’s brick cavity walls, his manipulation of ceiling heights and skylighting, and his inventive cabinetwork are details enlivening this calm, serene house. Taniguchi also designed the house next door at Lake Drive (1953).

Harlingen architect John Pearcy bought and has rehabilitated the contemporary house at Lake Drive (1951) by Weslaco architect William C. Baxter and his modern designer, John F. Ring.

Cocke, Bowman & York designed only one house in the Matz-Leggett Addition, the Monterey style brick house of Harlingen’s Ford dealer J. Lewis Boggus at Lake Drive (1951). Gale Cook, a draftsman for Cocke, Bowman & York at the time, remembered that draftsmen in the office were so offended by its traditional design that they refused to work on the project. 

Text courtesy of Rice University Professor Stephen Fox.

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