WFC1 Built: 1986, 40 stores, Top: cropped pyramid
WFC2 Built: 1987, 51 stores, Top: dome
WFC3 built: 1985, 54 stores, top: pyramid
WFC4 built: 1988- stores, Top: ziggurat
The following from:
In 1961, a year before designing the World Trade Center towers, American architect Minoru Yamasaki completed a much smaller project that would influence the look of his new creation in New York City.
The project was 6,000 miles away, in a country Yamasaki would visit many times over the next decade, Saudi Arabia. It's clear from the layout of the World Trade Center that Yamasaki incorporated aspects of Islamic design into the towers.
This pattern was most visible at the base of the buildings, which were ringed by pointed arches resembling those found in mosques and on Muslim prayer rugs. The plaza fronting the towers paid homage to Mecca, Islam's holiest place, by replicating that city's courtyard layout, according to architect Laurie Kerr, who has studied Yamasaki's work.
Yamasaki himself described the trade center plaza, which featured a circular fountain and places to sit, as a mecca -- "an oasis, a paved garden where people can spend a few moments to relieve the tensions and monotonies of the usual working day."
For 29 years -- from the time the first World Trade Center tower was completed in 1972 to Sept. 11, 2001, when two hijacked planes leveled the buildings -- there was little general awareness that New York's tallest and most visible towers reflected Yamasaki's interest in Islamic architecture.
No plaque pointed out this connection. No literature extolled it. Yamasaki himself didn't publicize it, even though he dropped plenty of hints in his 1979 autobiography, "A Life in Architecture," in which he expressed his admiration for Islamic arches and included photos of all his important projects -- photos that reveal a pattern of Islamic-inspired design.
"The idea of a pointed, ribbed arch was beautifully replicated in the World Trade Center," says Nezar AlSayyad, a UC Berkeley architecture professor who worked with Yamasaki for two years on another project. "It's ironic it was used in the World Trade Center, which is then understood by the hijackers as a symbol of Western capitalism."
Although the trade center was perhaps the most prominent example of Islamic-influenced architecture in the United States, there are other notable examples in every major American city.
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