Saturday, September 10, 2011

The day America changed forever

A personal memoir of the World Trade Center, of big events that impact little lives ...on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

I was 14 when I first saw the World Trade Center buildings in New York. It was August 1970 and I had gone to New York to visit my sister Sukanya who had just moved there. The Beatles had split up and “Let it Be”, their last film, had just been released. My sister had moved into a ‘loft' on East Broadway in Chinatown with her painter husband Ted. Loft living was an unusual feature specific to New York in those days — they were full floor spaces in old industrial buildings which artists found perfect to convert into studios. Most at that time were illegal to live in and her loft was not far from the site where the Trade Center buildings were coming up. To me, this was all very hip!

Keenly followed
I knew all about the buildings. My father, Habib Rahman, was Chief Architect of the CPWD back in Delhi. The Trade Centers were to be the tallest buildings in the world, rising above the Empire State Building in New York and their design and engineering were being followed by architects around the world. For a teenaged Meccano model-maker like me, the structures were fascinating. They were the biggest buildings being built using the exterior wall-support tube structures in steel — a system which had been devised by Fazlur Khan, the structural engineer of Bangladeshi origin. I knew about him too, my father had told me about him and had met him in an international conference on tall buildings. The building was prefabricated in Japan, large sections of the steel wall coming by sea. The architect, Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986), was of Japanese American ancestry and well-known across the world.

Full report here Hindu

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