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Parallels

17/03/2010

I find it really interesting when congruent paths are found in the world and in history. Devices or techniques are developed all the time in parallel across great spaces and sometimes people have similar life paths – or at least they appear to be.

Take for instance Minoru Yamasaki and Bruce Graham. Two architects of renown and both known for their modernist leanings. One brought us the World Trade Center Towers, which stood for only a few years as the tallest buildings in the world only to be eclipsed by the other, who designed the Sears Tower.

The two men are both sons of parents from other countries. The parallels continue as both received their educations in other locations before settling in the cities where they’d plan their most renowned works. Curiously, those two cities, Chicago for Graham and Detroit for Yamasaki, are firmly in the grasp of the United States’ midwestern manufacturing might.

In between taking commissions in other parts of the country, Graham and Yamasaki put their marks on the skylines of their respective cities through the clean and thoughtful lines of their skyscrapers, as well as putting their fingerprints on the area’s institutions of higher learning.

One can go on and find further similarities in their stories, but I wonder if both had met. Did both then see perhaps an odd shape in each other as if looking at a slight reflection in glass? Did they hate each other and compete with viciously? I can’t seem to find record, but being that at the peak of their influence they were at worst only 400-some miles away from each other, they must have.

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