Northwestern National Life Building

Northwestern National Life Building
Image from Emma Julian’s Pinterest.

This building is by no means new but has really captured my attention. The words elegant and graceful do not usually come to mind when discussing concrete, but with the former Northwestern National Life Building I can’t help but use them.

Created by architect Minoru Yamasaki in 1965 and located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the very tall 85 foot (26 m) portico is like a forest rising from the ground. Interestingly, Yamasaki was reportedly afraid of heights, so, perhaps with this building, it’s all about looking up, rather than down. However, one of his more famous projects was the World Trade Centre’s Two Towers, so he evidently had no issues with other people living the high life.

Minoru Yamasaki's Northwestern National Life Building
Image found here.

To me this particular structure isn’t about high-rise concrete sky scrapers, more of form and delicacy.

Yamasaki himself said he wanted to create something “appropriate to an office building, monumental and dignified, yet graceful.”  The 63 slender quartz-faced columns bring the notion of the forest right into the city and with it tranquillity and calm. He was also influenced by Japanese design and the use of reflective pools of water clearly shows this.

60s architecture
Image found here.

A breath of fresh air amongst the concrete jungle.

Guest Post from Emma Julian who writes Design Debate.