Art: The Road to Xanadu

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wanted to build a new consulate general in Kobe, Japan. Yamasaki went to Japan, was enchanted by the traditional architecture he saw. He visited the Katsura Palace and the Gosho (Old Imperial Palace) in Kyoto, spent hours studying the ancient temples in their garden settings. "I was overwhelmed by the serenity that can be achieved by enhancing nature," says he of those gardens. "It was here that I decided that serenity could be an important contribution to our environ ment, because our cities are so chaotic and full of turmoil." Work on the consulate general — a white structure raised slightly off the ground like a Japanese temple and surrounded by bronze and plastic sun screens— drew him to Japan again, and Yamasaki decided to go the long way and take a look at some of the rest of the world. The great formative experience was comparing the Taj Mahal and Chandigarh, but he also learned a significant lesson from Europe's great Gothic cathedrals, in which the uninterrupted flow of structure did not preclude the use of elaborate detail: "The need for ornamentation and texture in

our times was deeply impressed on me." He was equally impressed by the quiet, reflective architecture of Venice and Pisa, the two cities, he says, that were most exposed to the influence of the contemplative East. Decline of the Glass Box. Back in the U.S., Yamasaki proceeded to tell his profession what he had learned. He paid handsome tribute to the glass box of the great Mies van der Rohe, but the glass box, except in the hands of a few highly talented men, had deteriorated into a cliché. He denounced "the dogma of rectangles" and the module system of building — "as monotonous as the Arabian desert." He deplored the "plastering of whole blocks of midtown New York with regimented patterns of glass and porcelain-enamel rectangles." Function, economy and order, said Yamasaki, were no longer enough. "My premise is that delight and reflection are ingredients which must be added. Unquestionably there is delight in our best new buildings, but this delight is in structural clarity, in proportion, and in elegant details and materials, and these characteristics offer but a portion of the delight which we have experienced in the buildings of the past. Sunlight and shadow, form, ornament, the element of surprise are little-explored fields, barely understood by today's architects." Since then, Yamasaki has done his best to achieve "the joy of surprise — the experience of moving from a barren street through a narrow opening in a high wall to find a quiet court with a lovely garden and still water; or to tiptoe through the mystery and dimness of a Buddhist temple and come upon a court of raked white gravel dazzling in the sunlight ; or to walk a narrow street in Rome and suddenly face an open square with graceful splash ing fountains." To these abstract ingredients, Yamasaki has lately added another one that is quite

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