Monday, September 26, 2011

A Decade of Designing a Muslim-American Identity

September 10, 2011 | Maryam Eskandari

featured in NYC Elan magazine

This weekend, the world marks the tenth anniversary of the horrific events of September 11th. This tragedy pushed the Muslim American community to the forefront, forcing us to discover who we are, as a collective. This grueling process of defining identity can be traced through architectural designs where various attributes have been explored. From the relatively unknown Islamic inspired architecture of the World Trade Center, to the Islamic Center in Manhattan, we start to see not only a pattern of expression, but also a community coming into our own.

The World Trade Center in New York, an iconic masterpiece stood majestically around 1300 feet high. Designed by Minoru Yamasaki, an architect praised for merging modernism with Islamic architecture, recreated Mecca’s courtyard within the busy Financial District claiming the World Trade Center’s plaza was, “a Mecca, a great relief from the narrow streets and sidewalks of the surrounding Wall Street area.” Three decades ago, Yamasaki, the desired designer of the 1970’s, was commissioned for his ability to merge Islamic and postmodern design, an amalgamation of defining a renowned form of architecture. He was applauded for his innovation.

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