Navigation (in separate window)

Homepage Art History on Stamps

Search Google

Eero Saarinen
(1910-1961)

Back to Expressionism

Eero Saarinen was a Finnish-American architect and designer, son of Eliel Saarinen and one of the leading architects of the mid-20th century. He produced a highly eclectic body of work that built upon influences ranging from the rectilinear glass-and-steel structures of the International Style to the free-form concrete buildings pioneered by Pier Luigi Nervi, Le Corbusier, and earlier 20th-century architects. His university buildings, corporate headquarters, airport terminals, and embassies are alike only in their bold design and large scale.

USA 1982. Architecture. Eero Saarinen. Dulles Airport, Washington DC.

Saarinen was born August 20, 1910, in Kikkonummi, Finland. In 1923 his family emigrated to the United States, where he graduated from the Yale School of Architecture in 1934 and subsequently went into partnership with his father. 

Starting in 1940, in collaboration with Charles Eames, he designed furniture, often imitated, that was outstanding for its elegant use of moulded plastic and plywood. 

  • USA 1982.  Eero Saarinen:  "Dulles Airport",  Washington DC.

Saarinen's principal architectural work was done after World War II. His first major commission, the General Motors Technical Center (1948-1957), Warren, Michigan, a large complex of five long, low, rectangular buildings and contrasting domes and cylinders, went beyond the obvious influence of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Albert Kahn to include distinct decorative elements such as multicoloured glazed bricks and fanciful staircases. At the same time, in a completely different mode, he designed (1948) the prizewinning Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Gateway Arch; 1964) in St Louis, a monumental stainless-steel arch 192 m (630 ft) high, in the form of a great catenary (elliptical) curve. 

USA 2002. Architecture. Eero Saarinen. Gateway Arch, Missouri. USA 2005. Architecture. Eero Saarinen. Masterpieces of Modern American Architecture. TWA Terminal.

Saarinen was at his best when designing large unconfined spaces; in the 1950s he produced several spectacular domed structures -- including the triangular-roofed Kresge Auditorium (1955, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the parabolic Ingalls Hockey Rink (1959, Yale University) -- culminating in the swooping wing-like lines of the TWA Terminal (completed 1962, Kennedy International Airport, New York). His design for the Dulles International Airport (completed 1963) introduced, in addition to a concrete slab roof suspended on cables, the innovative concept of a vehicular lounge. Saarinen preferred to design institutional buildings; his only skyscraper, the austere CBS Building (completed 1965), was New York's first reinforced concrete tower. He died in Ann Arbor, Michigan, September 1, 1961; the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, awarded posthumously in 1962, was accepted by his widow, the art critic and commentator Aline B. Saarinen. 

Sources and links:

Other Expressionist architects on this site: 

Back to Expressionism


Navigation (in separate window)

Homepage Art History on Stamps

Search Google

Revised 24-jul-2006. Ann Mette Heindorff
Copyright 1999-2007. All Rights Reserved

Homepage Heindorffhus