Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961

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Eero Saarinen was born in Kirkkonummi, Finland, on August 20, 1910. His father, the architect Eliel Saarinen, and his family moved to Michigan in 1921. After receiving a B.F.A. in Architecture from Yale University in 1934, Saarinen joined his father's firm (Saarinen, Saarinen and Swanson) and began work as an architect. After his father's death in 1950, Saarinen began to make a name for himself as an architect, started his own firm (Eero Saarinen and Associates), and established a reputation as a prolific, innovative and versatile designer. Among his best-known works are the Gateway Arch (Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) in St. Louis, Missouri; the Trans World Air Lines Terminal Building at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, and Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, as well as numerous furniture designs for Knoll Inc., including the "Womb Chair" and the "Pedestal" series. Saarinen died suddenly of a brain tumor at the age of 51 on September 1, 1961.

From the description of Eero Saarinen collection, 1880-2004 (inclusive), 1938-1962 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702167168

These sketches were created in response to designs by Monsieur E. Beaudouin's scheme. The drawings are in the Wallace K. Harrison architectural drawings and papers because Saarinen asked Harrison his opinion of the design.

From the description of [Studies for site plan of UNESCO's permanent headquarters, Paris, France] [graphic] : [sketches] / [Eero Saarinen, architect]. [March 1952]. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 84088897

Eero Saarinen was born in Kirkkonummi, Finland on August 20, 1910. His parents, architect Eliel Saarinen and sculptor Loja Gesellius Saarinen, moved to Michigan in 1923 after Eliel Saarinen took second place in the Chicago Tribune tower competition. The Saarinens worked with publisher and philanthropist George C. Booth to create the arts-focused educational community of Cranbrook, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Eero Saarinen attended Cranbrook Academy where his family lived and taught, and, while a student, designed furniture, doors and doorknobs, bricks, and other sculpture for the school and its grounds. After graduating from Cranbrook, Saarinen moved to Paris in 1929 to study sculpture at the Grande Chaumière but returned to the United States to attend architecture school at Yale. He received his Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts in 1934 and briefly worked in the New York office of architect Norman Bel Geddes.

Upon his graduation from Yale, Saarinen was awarded the Charles O. Matcham Travelling Fellowship and traveled throughout Europe, taking photographs, painting watercolor sketches, and making detailed drawings of buildings. When he returned to the United States, he moved back to Michigan to teach alongside his father at Cranbrook and to become a partner, along with his brother-in-law J. Robert F. Swanson, at his firm, renamed Saarinen, Swanson, Saarinen and Associates. Saarinen married sculpture student Lilian Swann in 1939, and the couple became a fixture at Cranbrook, drawing to them a number of designers and artists who would become household names in the decades to come; Charles Eames, Ray Kaiser, Harry Bertoia, Harry Weese, and Ralph Rapson were all friends and collaborators with the Saarinens, and Florence Schust [later Florence Knoll Bassett], a close childhood friend, would commission furniture from both Eames and Saarinen in the coming years. In 1940, Eames' and Saarinen's designs for the Museum of Modern Art's "Organic Furniture" competition won first place and were later exhibited at the museum. In 1942, Eero and Lilian had their first child, Eric, and in 1945 their daughter Susan was born. At this time, Saarinen became a United States citizen, and from 1942 to 1945 he served in the Office of Strategic Services as a designer.

Until Eliel's death in 1950, Eero and his father continued to practice architecture together as Saarinen and Saarinen Associates (Swanson left the firm in 1947), despite Eero's securing his own commissions. Notably, he won the competition for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri -- a competition that his father had also entered and, for a short period, believed he had won. Many of Eero Saarinen's earliest works were collaborations with his father, including the winning entry in the competition for the Smithsonian Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the Des Moines Art Center/Edmundson Memorial Museum; the Crow Island School in Winnetka, Illinois; Tabernacle Church of Christ in Columbus, Indiana; and the early designs for the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. After Eliel's death, Eero changed the name of the firm to Eero Saarinen and Associates and emerged as an extremely prolific architect with his own strong creative vision -- one he described as "structural expressionism". He did not hesitate to push the boundaries of what was technologically possible with existing building materials; if a building component didn't exist, he would invent it. His humanistic approach to design and his philosophy of building in "the style for the job" set him apart from his more dogmatically Modernist contemporaries.

In the ten-year period between Eliel's death and Eero's own death, his firm embarked on more than forty projects, including such major works as the Trans World Air Lines Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York; the John Deere Administrative Center in Moline, Illinois; the Bell Laboratories headquarters in Holmdel, New Jersey; Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.; and the Columbia Broadcasting System headquarters in New York. He also continued to work closely with the J. Irwin Miller family of Columbus, Indiana, whose company, the Cummins Engine Company, became one of the great corporate patrons of modern architecture in America. In 1949, A. Whitney Griswold, the president of Yale University, asked Saarinen to create a master plan for the university's anticipated expansion and later awarded him the commissions for Ezra Stiles and Samuel F. B. Morse Colleges and the David S. Ingalls Rink. Between 1948 and 1961 Saarinen served on the Yale University Council as Architecture chairman, as well as its Committees on the Yale Center for Fine Arts and on the Division of the Arts. In 1949 he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from Yale University.

In 1953 Eero and Lilian Saarinen divorced, and that same year Saarinen married Aline Bernstein Louchheim, the arts and architecture editor for the New York Times. Eero and Aline had one son, Eames, in 1954. In 1952, Saarinen was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and in 1960 became a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Because most of Saarinen's late commissions were on the East Coast of the United States, Saarinen decided, in 1961, to relocate the firm from Bloomfield Hills to Hamden, Connecticut, just a few miles north of the Yale Campus. Tragically, on September 1, 1961, two weeks after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Saarinen died during surgery, just days before the move was to take place. Ten of his projects remained unfinished and were completed by the surviving members of the reorganized firm known as Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. The American Institute of Architects posthumously awarded Saarinen its Gold Medal in 1962.

From the guide to the Eero Saarinen collection, 1880-2004, 1938-1962, (Manuscripts and Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Eames, Ray. Oral history interview with Ray Eames, 1980 July 28-Aug. 20. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Herbert Matter papers, ca. 1937-1984 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
referencedIn Architecture USA : postage stamp set, 1982. Centre canadien d'architecture, | Canadian Centre for Architecture | CCA
referencedIn Booth, Henry Scripps, 1897-1988. Oral history interview with Henry Booth, 1979 Sept. 10. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Janz, Wesley Richard. Wesley R. Janz collection of transcripts of oral history interviews, 1992. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Eero Saarinen collection, 1880-2004, 1938-1962 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Booth, Henry Scripps, 1897-1988. Oral history interview with Henry Booth, 1979 Sept. 10. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961. Gateway Arch, Saint Louis, Missouri [model]. Centre canadien d'architecture, | Canadian Centre for Architecture | CCA
referencedIn Bertoia, Harry. Harry Bertoia interview, 1972 June 20. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Blake, Peter, 1920-2006. Peter Blake papers, 1943-1979. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center
referencedIn Pietro Belluschi Collection, 1927-1983 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Belle Krasne Ribicoff papers, 1942-circa 2010, bulk 1945-2004 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Lippold, Richard, 1915-. Richard Lippold papers, 1944-1977. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Proskauer, Henry G., 1915-. Research files on architecture, ca. 1940-1970. Getty Research Library
referencedIn Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969. Papers of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1921-1969 (bulk 1938-1969). Library of Congress
creatorOf Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961. [Letter] 1955 June 14, Bloomfield Mills, Michigan [to] Marvin Halverson, [New York] / Eero Saarinen. Presbyterian Historical Society, PHS
referencedIn Bertoia, Harry,. Oral history interview with Harry Bertoia, 1972 June 20 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Haskell, Douglas Putnam, 1899-1979. Douglas Putnam Haskell papers, Series II: Personal correspondence, 1922-1979 (bulk 1940-1970). Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Houston, Henry Howard, 1820-1895. Estate Papers, 1698-1989 (bulk 1803-1953). University of Pennsylvania, Archives & Records Center
referencedIn Hammarstrom, Olav, 1906-. Olav Hammarstrom interviews, 1982 Oct. 21 - 1983 Mar. 10. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Nagel, Charles, 1899-1992. Charles Nagel papers, ca. 1927-1992. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Eames, Ray. Ray Eames interviews, 1980 July 28 - Aug. 20 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961 : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Aline and Eero Saarinen papers, 1906-1977 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Theodore Roszak papers, 1926-1994, 1930-1980 Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Blake, Peter, 1920-2006. Peter Blake architectural records and papers, 1910-2006 (bulk 1980-2002). Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Hammarstrom, Olav. Oral history interview with Olav Hammarstrom, 1982 Oct. 21-1983 Mar. 10. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Peter, John, 1917-1998. Transcripts and photographs from the John Peter collection, 1951-1995. Library of Congress
referencedIn Serge Koussevitzky Archive, 1920-1976, (bulk 1924-1951) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Booth, Henry, b. 1897. Henry Booth interview, 1979 Sept. 10. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Moroles, Jesús Bautista, 1950-. Oral history interview with Jesús Moroles, 2004 July 19-20 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Eero Saarinen : vertical file. Centre canadien d'architecture, | Canadian Centre for Architecture | CCA
creatorOf Nivola, Costantino, 1911-1988. Costantino Nivola papers, circa 1938-2003. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961. Trans World Airlines Unit Terminal Building, New York International Airport, architectural drawings, 1958-1961. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Ribicoff, Belle Krasne, 1924-. Belle Krasne Ribicoff papers, 1942-circa 2010, bulk 1945-2004. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Peter Blake architectural records and papers, 1910-2006, (bulk 1980-2002) Columbia University. Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings & Archives,
referencedIn Matter, Herbert, 1907-1984. Herbert Matter papers, circa 1937-1984. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Fogg Art Museum. Archives of the Fogg Art Museum, 1895-1985 (inclusive). Harvard University Art Museum
creatorOf Fleischman, Lawrence A. (Lawrence Arthur), 1925-1997. Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman papers, 1863-1970. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961. Eero Saarinen collection, 1880-2004 (inclusive), 1938-1962 (bulk). Yale University Library
creatorOf The Gateway Arch, S.S. Admiral, St. Louis [model]. Centre canadien d'architecture, | Canadian Centre for Architecture | CCA
creatorOf Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961. [Studies for site plan of UNESCO's permanent headquarters, Paris, France] [graphic] : [sketches] / [Eero Saarinen, architect]. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Hobson, Katherine Thayer, 1889-1982. Katherine Thayer Hobson papers, 1918-1982. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn University of Michigan. College of Architecture and Urban Planning. College of Architecture and Urban Planning (University of Michigan) student papers, 1924-1980 (bulk 1930-1980). University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Bisttram, Emil, 1895-1976. Emil J. Bisttram papers, 1902-1982. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Saarinen, Aline B. (Aline Bernstein), 1914-1972. Aline and Eero Saarinen papers, 1906-1977. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Transcripts and Photographs from the John Peter Collection, circa 1951-1995, and undated Recorded Sound Reference Center, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Roszak, Theodore, 1907-. Theodore Roszak papers 1928-1981. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Alan, Charles, 1908?-1975. Oral history interview with Charles Alan on Aline Saarinen, 1973 Feb. 17. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Papers, 1921-1969, (bulk 1938-1969) Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
referencedIn Jo Mielziner papers, 1903-1976 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Hammarstrom, Olav, 1906-. Oral history interview with Olav Hammarstrom, 1982 Oct. 21-1983 Mar. 10. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Museum of Modern Art exhibition correspondence concerning Eero Saarinen, 1958-1959. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Julius Shulman photography archive, 1935-2007 Getty Research Institute, Research Library
creatorOf Saarinen, Aline B. (Aline Bernstein), 1914-1972. Aline and Eero Saarinen papers, 1857-1972. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Osborn, Robert Chesley, 1904-1994. Robert Chesley Osborn letters to Eero Saarinen and Lilian Swann Saarinen, circa 1950. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Knoll, Florence, 1917-. Florence Knoll Bassett papers, 1932-2000. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Eames, Charles. Architecture and furniture designs, 1940-1978. Getty Research Library
creatorOf Fleischman, Lawrence A. (Lawrence Arthur), 1925-1997. Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman papers, 1863-1970. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961. The Gateway Arch [model] : authentic scale model. Centre canadien d'architecture, | Canadian Centre for Architecture | CCA
referencedIn Florence Knoll Bassett papers, 1932-2000 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Museum of Modern Art exhibition correspondence relating to Eero Saarinen, 1958-1959. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Platner, Warren, 1919-2006. Warren Platner papers, 1958-1992 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Alan, Charles, 1908?-1975. Charles Alan interview on Aline Saarinen, 1973 Feb. 17. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Peter Blake Papers, 1943-1979 University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.
referencedIn Eero Saarinen & Associates. Eero Saarinen & Associates glass slides, [195-]. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn College of Architecture and Urban Planning (University of Michigan) student publications, 1824-1980 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Rich, Frances. Frances Rich papers, 1924-1988. Getty Research Library
referencedIn Plant Extension Services (University of Michigan) records, 1907-1996 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Nivola, Costantino, 1911-1988. Costantino Nivola papers, 1938-1979. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Belluschi, Pietro, 1899-1994. Pietro Belluschi Collection, 1927-1983. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Alan, Charles, 1908?-1975 person
associatedWith Antioch College corporateBody
associatedWith Athens International Airport. corporateBody
associatedWith Bell Telephone Laboratories corporateBody
associatedWith Belluschi, Pietro, 1899-1994. person
associatedWith Berkshire Music Center. corporateBody
associatedWith Bertoia, Harry, person
associatedWith Bisttram, Emil, 1895-1976. person
associatedWith Blake, Peter person
associatedWith Blake, Peter, 1920-2006. person
associatedWith Booth, Henry, b. 1897. person
associatedWith Booth, Henry Scripps, 1897-1988 person
associatedWith CBS Building (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Concordia Senior College (Fort Wayne, Ind.) corporateBody
associatedWith Deere & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Drake University corporateBody
associatedWith Dulles International Airport. corporateBody
associatedWith Eames, Charles person
associatedWith Eames, Charles. person
associatedWith Eames, Ray person
associatedWith Eero Saarinen & Associates. corporateBody
associatedWith Ezra Stiles College (Yale University) corporateBody
associatedWith Fleischman, Lawrence A. (Lawrence Arthur), 1925-1997. person
associatedWith Fogg Art Museum. corporateBody
associatedWith Girard, Alexander person
associatedWith Girard, Alexander. person
associatedWith GM Technical Center. corporateBody
associatedWith Hammarstrom, Olav, 1906- person
associatedWith Haskell, Douglas Putnam, 1899-1979. person
associatedWith Hobson, Katherine Thayer, 1889-1982. person
associatedWith Houston, Henry Howard, 1820-1895. person
associatedWith International Business Machines Corporation corporateBody
associatedWith Janz, Wesley Richard. person
associatedWith John F. Kennedy International Airport. corporateBody
associatedWith Knoll Associates, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Knoll, Florence, 1917- person
associatedWith Knoll, Florence (Florence Knoll Bassett) person
correspondedWith Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951 person
associatedWith Krasne Ribicoff, Belle person
associatedWith Lippold, Richard, 1915- person
associatedWith Massachusetts Institute of Technology corporateBody
associatedWith Matter, Herbert, 1907-1984. person
associatedWith Mielziner, Jo, 1901-1976 person
associatedWith Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969. person
associatedWith Miller, J. Irwin (Joseph Irwin), 1909- person
associatedWith Moroles, Jesús Bautista, 1950- person
associatedWith Morse College (Yale University) corporateBody
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Nagel, Charles, 1899-1992. person
associatedWith Nivola, Costantino, 1911-1988. person
associatedWith Osborn, Robert Chesley, 1904-1994. person
associatedWith Peter, John, 1917-1998. person
associatedWith Platner, Warren, 1919-2006. person
associatedWith Proskauer, Henry G., 1915- person
associatedWith Ribicoff, Belle Krasne, 1924- person
associatedWith Rich, Frances. person
associatedWith Roszak, Theodore, 1907- person
associatedWith Saarinen, Aline B. (Aline Bernstein), 1914-1972. person
associatedWith Saarinen, Eliel, 1873-1950. person
associatedWith Saarinen, Lilian Swann, 1912- person
associatedWith Shulman, Julius person
associatedWith Stephens College corporateBody
associatedWith Thomas J. Watson IBM Research Center. corporateBody
associatedWith Trans World Airlines corporateBody
associatedWith Trans World Airlines Flight Center (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Trans World Airlines Terminal (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith TWA Terminal A (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Unesco. corporateBody
associatedWith Unesco permanent headquarters (Paris, France) corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Embassy (Great Britain) corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Embassy (Norway) corporateBody
associatedWith University of Chicago. Law School. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. College of Architecture and Urban Planning. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. College of Arcitecture and Urban Planning. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Plant Extension Services. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. School of Music. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Pennsylvania corporateBody
associatedWith Vassar College corporateBody
associatedWith Vivian Beaumont Theater (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Yale University corporateBody
associatedWith Yale University. David S. Ingalls Rink. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Indiana--Columbus
New York (N.Y.)
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Saint Louis, Mo.)
France
Paris (France)
New York (State)--New York
United States
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Saint Louis, Mo.)
Subject
Architecture, Modern
Office buildings
Furniture design
Airport terminals
Patents
Architecture, Modern--20th century
Architecture
Architecture--History--20th century
Design
Airport buildings
Architecture--Design and plans
Architecture--Designs and plans
Architecture--Indiana--Columbus
Occupation
Architect
Function

Person

Birth 1910-08-20

Death 1961-09-01

Americans

English

Information

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Ark ID: w632045b

SNAC ID: 13164612