Art: The Road to Xanadu

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Yamasaki's approach to architecture than his reaction to two architectural wonders during a trip to India in 1954. The first wonder was the Taj Mahal, with its inlays of marble and its inexhaustible detail. From a distance it was "a vision," but as Yamasaki approached it, the vision seemed to get richer. Finally, "you go through this narrow deep gate, opening in total shadow. You emerge beyond the wall into the sharp contrast of a peaceful and silent setting, and there is the gleaming Taj Mahal in front of you. Then you walk along the fabled pools, then up a dark stairway, so narrow you have to walk sideways. Finally you emerge again into the sunlight, and the Taj is so blinding you can barely see it. But you notice as you get closer the fine details and the wonderful inlays of marble." Some time later, Yamasaki visited Le Corbusier's High Court at Chandigarh, that completely new town built on the hot plains north of New Delhi to provide an Indian capital for the divided state of Punjab (which had lost Lahore to Pakistan). The High Court stands behind a reflection pool, is topped by a massive over hang supported by soaring concrete columns. From a distance, the building seemed "absolutely magnificent," Yamasaki reported. "But as you come closer, it becomes over powering. Its concrete surfaces are brutally crude." To Yamasaki. such a building was out of place in a democracy, where architecture should serve man, not dominate him. "I had the feeling of a great pagan temple, where man must enter on his knees. A building should not awe but embrace man. Instead of overwhelming grandeur in architecture, we should have gentility. And we should have the wish mentally and physically to touch our buildings." Shikataganai. Minoru ("bearing fruit") Yamasaki (roughly, "mountain ledge with great view") does not look like a man who would brew up a storm, but he obviously learned to be tough early. His father, the fourth son of a Japanese farmer, came to Seattle in 1908 after the farm was inherited by an older brother, in accordance with traditional Japanese primogeniture. Yamasaki spent the first years of his life in a shabby wooden tenement whose foundation was so eroded that the house had a tilt. The Japanese-American community stayed within itself in those days, and young Yamasaki got only occasional hints of the degree of discrimination that lay beyond. Once, he remembers, his mother came home in tears after a cruel experience on a bus: she had taken a seat next

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