Submitted By Carolyn-Baldwin
Words: 2850
Pages: 12

Modern Architecture II
Spring 2015

Twin Towers: The Rise, and the Rise Again of Great Architecture

Once criticized for its different modernist style, the World Trade Center has become known most for the horrific assault of 9/11, but is deserves recognition for its fine engineering and architecture. In 1962, the Port Authority thought they should take a different route on choosing an architect for the building of the World Trade Center.
Instead of choosing a big time architect, they would choose one with a more mainstream background. The twin towers were built in New York, New York, USA by architect, Minoru
Yamasaki and Associates. The One World Trade Center was completed in 1972 at 1,368 feet high, and the Two World Trade Center was completed a year later in 1973 at 1,362 feet high, both with 110 stories. At the time of the completion of the two buildings, the
Twin towers were known as the tallest buildings in the world.
Yamasaki worked as a disciple of Mies van der Rohe favoring such minimalist lines as seen the Martin Luther King Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. and the IBM
Building in Chicago. Yamasaki soon tired of the International Style, and moved on to something new: New Formalism. Yamasaki was one of the most prominent architects of the 20th century. He and fellow architect Edward Durell Stone are generally considered to be the two master practitioners of New Formalism. This was not a style that caught on and it was not a style that followed the International Style. But Yamasaki was inspired by a style that was more decorative and ornamental, after his trip to Europe and Japan in
1954. This was difficult for him, because Americans were so stuck on the International
Style: the “all-glass” buildings. 1

Angus Kress Gillespie, Twin Towers: The Life of New York’s World Trade Center
(New Jersey and London: Rutgers University Press, 1999), 164.

Minoru Yamasaki was an outsider who didn’t fit in as it was, yet that didn’t influence his outlook on architecture and what he wanted to see come of his structures.
While his work gave a nod to classical themes, his designs were more contemporary in structures of glass and concrete. Yamasaki’s process of design for the World Trade
Center was influenced mostly based on his personal preferences and emotions. Yamasaki found himself with a fear of heights when standing inside a tall building in which had floor-to-ceiling windows. He felt as if he could fall out, but creating a space with little to no windows would give some people a feeling of claustrophobia. 2 Thus, he wanted find a happy medium and created floor-to-ceiling windows but only shoulder width apart. This would allow you to lean against the frame of the window and not feel as if you would fall out but feel the security of the structure.
The World Trade Center was about 30 percent glass whereas an International
Style building would be about 60 percent. Yamasaki was also influenced by the historical architecture of Japan, and the way you would flow through a building. As you would walk, objects would cast different shapes and shadows creating different feelings in each space, like those of a Japanese temple. Minoru thought to incorporate this similar style by adjusting the ceiling heights of various spaces to vary the spaciousness of the rooms.
“Architecture must be dignified and elegant. It must be humanly scaled to man so that it belongs to him, so that he has pride in it, so that he loves it, so that he wishes to touch it.”3 (New York Magazine)

Angus Kress Gillespie, Twin Towers: The Life of New York’s World Trade Center
(New Jersey and London: Rutgers University Press, 1999), 165.
3 Justin Davidson, “Yamasaki, Minoru: An Architect Whose Legacy Didn’t Work Out as Planned,” New York, August 27, 2011, (accessed May 5, 2015).

Engineering shaped the World Trade Center in many ways that are never seen.
The towers were built on six acres of landfill and…