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Yamasaki lecture Oct 8 at the Ryerson Library


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One of my favorite journalists is John Gallagher of the Free Press who covers the stuff we talk about here, architecture and urban planning.  This coming Thursday, October 8 at 7 PM at the Ryerson Library he is going to give a lecture on the life of architect Minoru Yamasaki in Detroit.  I suppose it isn’t a coincidence that Gallagher has just written a new book called Yamasaki in Detroit: A Search for Serenity.

Yamasaki is probably best known as the architect of the World Trade Center.  While that must have generated a great commission, in my opinion it isn’t really a good representation of his style or at least it isn’t one of the buildings of his that I like.  He was one of the architects that first began to turn away from the bland boxy modern architecture of the middle of last century by adding columns, arches, fountains, curved roofs, and other devices to his designs.

While buildings he designed can be found around the world, he lived and worked in Detroit and there are several of his buildings in Detroit.  When I lived in Detroit thirty-five years ago, I lived in an old apartment building that was owned by and completely surrounded by Wayne State University.  When I stepped out the front door in the morning I could see to my right two of his buildings and two more were a few hundred feet away.   Here is a link that shows his Wayne State buildings, you can click on the individual buildings for more details:  


I particularly like the McGregor Building with its sculpture garden which has been recently restored.  One might compare it to a Japanese garden.

I know a lot of us here don’t much care for mid-century architecture even when it is well done and that sometimes includes me.  Instead we get excited about apartments and condos carved out of old warehouses and furniture factories.  But I think at Wayne State his buildings really work well.

Here’s a flyer on the lecture:


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