Now that work has revealed the essence of the new One World Trade Center, a triangular and block-like glass structure, New Yorkers who recall the original tower and its twin remember its foundation and covering, as well as certain delicacy in the design that helped onlookers cope with its massiveness.
The twin towers of New York's World Trade Center destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001 were designed by distinguished Japanese-American architect Minoru Yamasaki. Just before he started work on it, he designed Robertson Hall, home of the Woodrow Wilson School, on the Princeton University campus. which has an uncanny resemblance to its former associates.
While the two 110-story buildings were destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, anyone who visits the Princeton University campus in Princeton, N.J. and spies Robertson Hall, home of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, will notice something familiar: the four-story structure bears an uncanny resemblance to the old trade center.
Indeed, Seattle-born architect Minoru Yamasaki designed both. The Wilson School, completed in 1966, was designed not long after Princeton was granted a huge grant by the Robertson family, heirs to the A&P supermarket fortune, for the new building in 1961.
Groundbreaking for the World Trade Center took place only in 1966. It was a project of what was then still the Port Authority of New York.
Yamasaki, who died in 1986, got design architecture help from the venerable firm of Emery Roth & Sons. One World Trade Center was ready for occupancy in 1970 and its twin in 1973.
One of the architectural tricks Yamasaki and his associates conceived was to set the columns supporting the structure very close together - only 22 inches apart - so that from close up, the twin towers didn't appear to have any windows at all. Just like Roberston Hall!
Long known just as the Woodrow Wilson School building until Princeton divulged the names of the Robertsons in the 1980s, Yamasaki's Princeton building is also a big, blocky structure, but its foundation and sides give it some of the same delicacy the twin towers had.
Yamasaki himself received his bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Washington in 1929 but spent most of his career in New York. During World War II, when Japanese-American were interned, Yamasaki, a second-generation U.S. citizen, worked in Detroit for Smith, Hinchman and Grylis. That saved him from arrest.
Critics also point out another Yamasaki building, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va., as resembling the original World Trade Center. That building, dating from 1975 though, is a skyscraper, compared with Princeton's building, a more modest structure that has a large reflecting pool on its north side.
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