Thursday/ architect Minoru Yamasaki

I saw ‘Black Panther’ (more about it later) in the IMAX theater here in the Pacific Science Center today.

The Pacific Science Center was designed by Minoru Yamasaki for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, and housed the United States Science Pavilion.  It is located right by the city’s iconic Space Needle.

These pictures are from the square inside the Pacific Science Center. The center offers two IMAX theatres: one since 1979, and a bigger one with fancy dual-4K laser projectors, that debuted in 2015. There is still only a handful of these installations in the world.


Yamasaki and the Pacific Science Center on the cover of TIME magazine in 1963.

Yamasaki was born in Seattle in 1912, a second-generation immigrant. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1934, and became a very successful architect with his own firm in Seattle.

He was the architect of two prominent buildings in downtown Seattle: the IBM Building (1963) and Rainier Bank Tower (1977).  His firm won the contract to design the St. Louis’ Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project in 1953, but the project ended in disaster. It was a big setback for his firm and for his reputation.

1956: The enormous Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex in St Louis, Missouri, shortly after its completion in 1956. It had 33 eleven-storey towers, a total of 2,870 units. Ultimately, the project was a failure of urban policy (and architecture?) on a grand scale, ending in an infamous, widely televised 1972 implosion of one of Pruitt-Igoe’s buildings.  The last one would come down in 1976. [Photograph: Bettmann/ Corbis]
2018: Here is a Google Earth view of the same site, today: a woodsy area at the corner of Cass and Jefferson. A private developer called Paul McKee bought the 34 acres in 2016 with a promise to develop it. Just to the north of the green patch, the federal government will build the new Western Headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. So hopefully, things are looking up for the area after such a long time.

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