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Minoru Yamasaki

Minoru Yamasaki (December 1, 1912 - February 6, 1986) was an American architect, born in Seattle, Washington, a second-generation Japanese-American. Despite a poor background, he earned a degree from the University of Washington, where he paid his way by working in a salmon cannery. After moving to New York in the 1930s, he got a job with the architecture firm Shreve, Lamb and Hermon, designers of the Empire State Building.

His first significant project was the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, Missouri, 1955. Despite his love of Japanese traditional design, this was a stark, modernist concrete structure. So unpopular was it that it was demolished in 1975. He also designed several "sleek" international airport buildings and was responsible for the innovative design of the 1,360-ft. towers of the World Trade Center; design began in 1965, and construction in 1972.

For years, the destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project was considered to be the beginning of postmodern architecture. With the World Trade Center also destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it would seem as though the stark modernism of his designs in some way attracts misfortune to them.

He was first married in 1941 and had two other wives before marrying his first wife again in 1969. Yamasaki died of cancer at the age of 73.


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