Yamasaki redux

A Career’s Paradoxes

Luis Fernández-Galiano 

The fact is that architects never liked Yamasaki. His extraordinary professional success, which had him building the world’s tallest skyscrapers, was systematically accompanied by negative criticism. The TwinTowers themselves, the tragic destruction of which has provoked abundant architectural lamentation, were received with open hostility when they went up. Although the inevitable physical and symbolic visibility of the World Trade Center would ensure their creator a place in history books, the image up to now most frequently associated with Yamasaki’s name in the manuals was a controlled blowingup: that of one of his early projects, a social housing development whose failure would serve to illustrate the shipwreck of modern architecture. Paradoxically, the architect’s later popularity among Arab and Asian clients was based, precisely, on his ability to dress modern constructions with robes evoking vernacular traditions; and ironically, the now gone towers were lambasted at once for their bureaucratic abstraction and their neo-Gothic skin, for being too modern in their geometric elementality and too historicist in the Venetian echoes of their vertical nerves... [+]

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