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After World War II, Japanese American architect became "the new modernist designer" in Detroit

May 13, 2016

Michigan has its fair share of magnificent architects, one of whom is Minoru Yamasaki.

Author John Gallagher recently wrote a book about Yamasaki. He joined us today on Stateside.

Yamasaki lived during World War II, when life for many Japanese Americans was not easy. Some suffered in internment camps, and Yamasaki too faced discrimination.

“And yet he was so good at what he did and so brilliant that he got these sort of high-end commissions, you know, from early on designing a naval base for the military at the height of World War II,” Gallagher said.

After the war, Yamasaki moved to Detroit. Gallagher said he quickly became “the new modernist designer” in the city and its suburbs. He is known for buildings like the McGregor Memorial Conference Center at Wayne State and the One Woodward building.

Gallagher said Yamasaki's buildings feel connected to nature.

“Whenever you’re in one of them you begin to sense what he was trying to do, creating these oasis of tranquility for the people who would use his buildings,” he said.