by Michael R. Allen
The Detroit Free Press reports that Yamasaki, Inc. has closed. This is the end of one of modern architecture’s most illustrious American firms. Founded by Minoru Yamasaki in 1959, the firm’s name is found on the drawings for the ill-fated World Trade Center as well as many significant modernist designs.
The firm marked the departure of Yamasaki from the Detroit-based firm Hellmuth, Yamasaki & Leinweber, which Yamasaki had founded in 1949 with St. Louisan George Hellmuth and Joseph Leinweber. The three had worked together at Detroit firm Smith Hinchman & Grylls. Hellmuth, Yamasaki & Leinweber left a tremendous impact in St. Louis, designing the terminal at Lambert Airport (1956) and most of the St. Louis Housing Authority’s projects from the early postwar era, including the Pruitt-Igoe project (1954). When the firm split, Hellmuth created the firm Hellmuth Obata Kassabaum in St. Louis, which went on to become the world’s largest architectural firm and continues to be a giant among American firms.