Modern Architecture II
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
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 ...view middle of the document...
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, http://nymag.com/news/9-11/10thanniversary/minoru-yamasaki/ (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 extended 70 feet below ground to sit on
solid bedrock. To prevent seepage from the Hudson River, a ‘bathtub’ was built a long
side the site of the two buildings. In order for a skyscraper to be built upwards, it first
needs to be built down into the ground to establish a foundation; otherwise the structure
would not be able to support itself. But because of the location in which the towers were
to be built (directly adjacent to the Hudson River) the Port Authority needed a solution,
thus the ‘bathtub’. If the ground were to be just dug up, the construction site would have
flooded due to groundwater. Creating a bathtub consisted of a process starting with
digging three-foot wide trenches down to the bedrock. As they dug, they piped in a slurry
made of water and an expansive clay called bentonite, which would expand, blocking the