While I had been to “the valley” before, this trip gave me a much better understanding of the diversity of the lower Rio Grande. The committee met on Friday at the Quinta Mazatlan, a Spanish-revival style mansion dating from the 1930s. We stayed nearby in McAllen at the historic Casa de Palmas Hotel, and after our business meeting we had the opportunity to take in the remarkably lively nightlife of the 17th Street District.
While in Brownsville, we also explored the city center as well as the university campus. Originally occupying old Fort brown structures, the school has grown into a modern learning institution that still retains the character of its historic past as it develops into the future.
From there we headed west and saw a number of houses by John York and Alan Taniguchi. While both of these midcentury architects would eventually leave the valley (Taniguchi would eventually become the dean of UT’s School of Architecture), they left a compelling built legacy in the valley. We toured a number of single family homes designed by the two both as individuals and in partnership and I think we were all impressed by the skill and efficiency of their designs. We were also impressed by the slenderness of some of their columns – structural engineers seem less likely to allow us to use 2” pipe columns these days.
All of us on the committee would like to thank local architect and hosting Publications Committee Member Mike Allex along with Carmen Pérez García, executive director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley AIA. The tours they organized were a treat and I think I speak for everyone on the retreat when I say I look forward to returning to the valley again. A special thanks is also due to Stephen Fox, whose encyclopedic knowledge of the valley (and of most other places in Texas) truly made this a weekend to remember.