Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) is perhaps the least-known famous architect of the 20th century. Designer of such iconic structures as the St. Louis Gateway Arch and the terminal at Dulles International Airport, as well as popular furniture including the sculptural 'Tulip' chair, Saarinen produced a body of work that not only explored the promise of new materials and technologies, but also seemed to capture the uniquely American spirit of optimism during the post-World War II economic boom.
Dulles International Airport Terminal, Chantilly, Virginia, circa 1963.
© Balthazar Korab Ltd.
His flourishing career was cut short, however, when he died of a brain tumor at the age of 51. His untimely death—coupled with the extraordinary diversity of his work—made Saarinen a problematic figure for critics and historians, and as a result, the architect's many contributions were widely overlooked for much of the past four decades.
TWA Terminal, New York International (now John F. Kennedy International) Airport, New York, circa 1962.
© Balthazar Korab Ltd.
Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future is the first full retrospective of Saarinen's career, as well as a rare glimpse of the man behind the landmarks. The exhibition examines his relationships with friends and colleagues and includes personal correspondence never published before. In addition, visitors will enjoy never-before-seen drawings and documents, large-scale models, photographs, a full-scale façade mock-up, original furniture samples, and a short film featuring interviews with some of Saarinen's prominent colleagues and collaborators.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive 382-page catalogue featuring essays and a survey of more than 100 of Saarinen's projects, available in the Museum Shop.
Support for the touring exhibition is provided by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates; Autodesk; Florence Knoll Bassett; Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro; Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown; Jeffrey Klein; Earle I. Mack; Ministry of Education, Finland; and Marvin Suomi, among others.
Additional support for the presentation of the exhibition and associated educational programs at the National Building Museum is provided by the Dedalus Foundation; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Carolyn Brody; Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Dr. Tina Alster and The Honorable Paul Frazer; A. Eugene and Barbara Kohn; Deborah Berke & Partners Architects; Nancy B. and Howard K. Cohen; Gensler; Thomas Glass; Richard Meier Foundation; Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; Perkins + Will; Deedie and Rusty Rose; Sunrise Foundation; STUDIOS Architecture; and Jessica and Henry Townsend, among others.
The exhibition is organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York; the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki; and the National Building Museum with the support of the Yale University School of Architecture. The Patron of the exhibition is Her Excellency Tarja Halonen, President of the Republic of Finland.