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Yamasaki architecture firm of World Trade Center fame closes

World Trade Center NYC diagrams
image/ Wikipeda public domain
World Trade Center NYC diagrams image/ Wikipeda public domain

Yamasaki, the Troy, Michigan architecture firm, founded in the 1950s by Minoru Yamasaki closed at the end of 2009. His former partners and the legacy of the famed Modernist designer kept the firm going after his death in 1986. The firm continued to attract high-end clients and talented designers who were excited to work for the landmark firm, and to produce stand-out projects locally, and around the world.

Yamasaki's World Trade Center in NYC under construction in May 1971
Pat Biancilli cc-by-2.0

The firm, and the world, was stunned to watch Yamasaki's New York City World Trade Center towers disintegrate on the sunny morning of September 11, 2001 when terrorists targeted the iconic buildings in a devastating attack. The firm suffered emotionally and financially from the event. At the same time, Michigan entered a recession that the entire country would later join as a result of the 2007 credit crisis.  

In 2007, businessman and non-architect Ted Ayoub bought the firm. The company's last lingering employees of less than a dozen, down from a staff of 100, left with the bitter reality of being owed salary and expenses. The firm had been overwhelmed by its own debts resulting from unpaid claims and was mired in lawsuits such as claims for payment by consultants.

Selected awards the firm has received:

1985 AIA Detroit 25-Year Award: McGregor Memorial Conference Center (1954-58) at Wayne State University

1987 AIA Detroit 25-Year Award: Arts and Crafts Building, Center for Creative Studies

2005 AIA Michigan 25-Year Award: World Trade Center, NYC

Selected local projects from the Minoru era:

Wayne State University Master Plan (1954-56) and DeRoy Hall (1956-60)
Established the viability of a higher density campus that allowed it to remain at its established inner city location

Reynolds Metals Building (1956-59)
Expressed Reynolds' desire to focus attention on aluminum

Michigan Consolidated Gas Company, One Woodward Avenue (1959-62)
26-story tower in Detroit's Civic Center District

Temple Beth El (1971-74)
Cast-in-place concrete structure that evokes the tent-form of historical synagogues

For more information

Yamasaki website still available as of publication of this article

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  • Sally McKenzie 5 years ago

    Thanks for the incisive article about Minoru Yamasaki & his firm, Andra. I had not known many of the facts that you presented.

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