Wednesday, July 1, 2015
What do Wayne State University’s DeRoy Auditorium and McGregor Memorial Conference Center have in common with the original World Trade Center, the Federal Science Pavilion at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, and the air terminal in Dharan, Saudi Arabia?
Yamasaki. These structures were designed by Yamasaki & Associates, one of the world’s notable architectural firms, which was headquartered in Troy between 1955 and 2010.
Minoru Yamasaki, the son of Japanese parents who immigrated to the United States, was born in Seattle, Washington in 1912. He worked his way through the architecture program at the University of Washington as a summer laborer in Alaskan canneries. He earned a master’s degree at New York University and worked in the city until 1945. He was able to house his parents there, with his family, when many Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II.
He was recruited by a major Detroit architectural firm – Smith, Hinchman & Gryllis (now known as the Smith Group) – as chief designer, in 1945. At that time, many of the residential areas surrounding the city had covenants that prevented Japanese-Americans from owning or renting property. This was not true in Troy, and Yamasaki bought a small farm in the township and lived there with his family for 25 years.
Yamasaki left the firm to form a partnership with two colleagues in 1949. He was stricken by stomach cancer in 1954, and after convalescing in Michigan, in 1955 he and one of his partners, Joseph Leinweber, formed a new firm, Yamasaki & Associates, with their office in Troy.
From this office came the designs for the buildings mentioned above and many more. Yamasaki’s autobiography, A Life in Architecture, was published in 1979. Minoru Yamasaki continued to work until age 73, when he died from stomach cancer on February 7, 1986.
Today, YAMASAKI, INC. is an international planning, architecture, engineering, and project management firm, directed by President Robert Szantner, AIA with offices in Birmingham, MI and New York, NY. The firm continues to design major architectural works such as the Qatar National Convention Centre (2012), continuing Minoru Yamasaki’s legacy and advancing the firm in high-caliber design services both domestically and abroad.
In addition to extensive experience in the Greater Detroit Area and Michigan, the firm has considerable experience throughout the United States and has or continues to serve clients in: Azerbaijan; Brazil; Canada; China; Colombia; Croatia; Denmark; Egypt; Germany; Hungary; India; Iraq; Japan; Kazakhstan; Kuwait; Nigeria; Qatar; Russia; Saudi Arabia; Singapore, South Korea, Spain; Turkey; United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
Minoru Yamasaki designed the WSU McGregor Memorial Conference Center in 1958.
The Qatar National Convention Center, designed by YAMASAKI, INC.
To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.