See Eero Saarinen On His Work, ed. by A. Saarinen (rev. ed. 1968); E. Stoller, The TWA Terminal (1999); studies by B. Carter (2003), A Román (2003), and J. Merkel (2005).
Eero Saarinen seated in one of the chairs he designed; photograph by Arnold Newman, 1948.
Learn more about Saarinen, Eero with a free trial on Britannica.com.
During his long association with Knoll he designed many important pieces of furniture including the "Grasshopper" lounge chair and ottoman (1946), the "Womb" chair and ottoman (1948), the "Womb" settee (1950), side and arm chairs (1948-1950), and his most famous "Tulip" or "Pedestal" group (1956), which featured side and arm chairs, dining, coffee and side tables, as well as a stool. All of these designs were highly successful except for the "Grasshopper" lounge chair, which, although in production through 1965, was not a big seller. His Womb chair and ottoman, as well as his "Tulip" collection, have remained in production and are considered iconic.
The first major work by Saarinen, started together with his father, was the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, designed in the rationalist Miesian style: in steel and glass, but with the added accent of panels in two shades of blue. With the success of the scheme, Saarinen was then invited by other major American corporations to design their new headquarters: these included John Deere, IBM, and CBS. Despite their rationality, however, the interiors usually contained more dramatic sweeping staircases, as well as furniture designed by Saarinen, such as the Pedestal Series. In the 1950s he began to receive more commissions from American universities for campus designs and individual buildings; these include the Noyes dormitory at Vassar, as well as an ice rink, Morse College, and Ezra Stiles College at Yale University. Both the Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges at Yale have received criticism from students for failing to fulfill basic dormitory needs.
"Eero Saarinen and Associates" was the architectural firm of Eero Saarinen, who was the principal partner from 1950 until his death in 1961. The firm was initially known as "Saarinen, Swansen and Associates", headed by Eliel Saarinen and Robert Swansen from the late 1930s until Eliel's death in 1950. The firm was located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan until 1961 when the practice was moved to Hamden, Connecticut. Under Eero Saarinen, the firm carried out many of its most important works, including the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Gateway Arch) in St. Louis, Missouri, the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport, and the main terminal of Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.. Many of these projects use catenary curves in their structural designs. One of the best-known thin-shell concrete structures in America is the Kresge Auditorium (MIT), which was designed by Saarinen. Another thin-shell structure that he created is the Ingalls Rink (Yale University), which has suspension cables connected to a single concrete backbone and is nicknamed "the whale." Undoubtedly his most famous work is the TWA Flight Center, which represents the culmination of his previous designs and demonstrates his expressionism and the technical marvel in concrete shells.
Saarinen died, while undergoing an operation for a brain tumor, at the age of 51. His partners, Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, completed his ten remaining projects, including the St. Louis arch. Afterwards, the name of the firm was changed to "Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo, and Associates", or Roche-Dinkeloo.
Saarinen is now considered one of the masters of American 20th Century architecture. There has been a veritable surge of interest in Saarinen's work in recent years, including a major exhibition and several books. This is partly due to the Roche and Dinkeloo office having donated their Saarinen archives to Yale University, but also because Saarinen's oeuvre can be said to fit in with present-day concerns about pluralism of styles. He was criticized in his own time — most vociferously by critic Vincent Scully — for having no identifiable style (Miesian rationalism for the several company headquarters; organic or abstract expressionism for several individual structures such as the TWA Flight Center, as well as his furniture designs; but also classicising eclecticism, for instance in the USA embassy in London): one explanation for this is that Saarinen adapted his modernist vision to each individual client and project, which were never exactly the same.
An exhibition of Saarinen's work, Eero Saarinen: Realizing American Utopia, has been organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York in collaboration with Yale School of Architecture and the Museum of Finnish Architecture. The exhibition will tour in Europe and the USA from 2006 to 2010. The exhibition is accompanied by the book Eero Saarinen. Shaping the Future.
The architect who meant business: Eero Saarinen and the aspirations of industry.(AMERICAN SEEN)(Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future exhibition)(Brief article)
Sep 01, 2008; [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The Fifties were supposed to be about conformity, yet in the arts it was a time of revolutionary...