Dismissed and derided when they stood, it’s time to reassess the twin towers | Rowan Moore

Twenty years after their destruction, we can finally see Yamasaki’s landmark pillars in all their glory Few buildings illustrated architecture’s power to be different things to different people at different times than the twin towers of the World Trade Center. To their architect, Minoru Yamasaki, they were “a living symbol of man’s dedication to world peace”. The terrorists who destroyed them made them symbols of conflict. To a generation of New Yorkers, they represented the faceless civic-corporate bodies who razed a thriving and diverse district called Radio Row in order to build the towers. When I studied architecture, they typified vacuous modernism – the “largest radiators in the world”, said one of my tutors. Yet the Japanese-American Yamasaki was dismissed by his contemporaries for being “dainty”, “prissy”, “epicene”, “ballet school”, for example, on account of the slender gothic-looking arcades that ran around the bases of the towers. Now, looking at the old images republished with the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the towers look stately and graceful, magically capturing the changing light, serene counterparts to the frenetic city stretched out beneath them. Not to mention pillars of the world that changed for ever with their collapse. Continue reading...

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