We received an update from Dale Allen Gyure, Associate Professor of Architecture at Lawrence Technological University about the threat to Minoru Yamasaki's architectural archives. We originally received the news from the Society of Architectural Historian's listserv, and wrote a blog post about it here.
According to Mr. Gyure,
I have good and bad news to report about the Yamasaki archives.We hope something was able to be saved by these efforts - it is sad that so much can be lost by a little carelessness. Thanks for the update, and we hope to see Mr. Yamasaki's work get the attention it deserves.
The county had scheduled an auction on March 9 to sell off as many office furnishings and equipment as possible. Amazingly, they also intended to empty all the file drawers and throw away the contents. The good news is that representatives of the Michigan State Archives were given access to the material. They arrived only an hour ahead of the shredders! Much important material was saved. The team also examined a self-storage facility but found only recent financial documents. Go to the Michigan Modern site for more information and a press release (http://michiganmodern.org/).
The bad news, however, is that Kip Serota, a longtime former employee who worked with Yamasaki, reported that when the firm moved offices back in the 1980s or 1990s they rented three self storage units to store all the historical materials, but the people operating the firm didn't pay the rent. Eventually the three units were consolidated into two and then finally into one. According to Serota, each time they downsized they simply threw out what didn't fit into the other units. When there was one unit left they again failed to pay the rent and the last of the material was simply thrown into a dumpster by the storage company. So it appears that whatever the Michigan State Archives was able to save is all that is left to document the history of this important firm.
Look for a story soon in the New York Times. Photos of the rescue are available at the Michigan SHPO’s Flickr site: