Growing up, Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen was overshadowed by his dad, Elliel, a towering figure in early 20th century design (he even lived and worked on the campus of Cranbrook, which his father designed). But by the time Eero passed away in 1961, at the age of 51, his gracious curves and neofuturistic aesthetic had not only made him arguably the more famous Saarinen, but one of the more influential architects of the 20th century.
Saarinen’s sweeping designs—from the TWA Flight Center in New York City and the Arch in St. Louis to the GM’s Warren Tech Center outside Detroit—captured midcentury ambition and energy with the style, verve, and optimism of a ‘50s muscle car. Many of his contemporaries mastered the minimal design aesthetic, while others boldly pushed for new technological and engineering achievements. But during his short, prolific career, Saarinen shaped the postwar aesthetic, pushing a streamlined and stylish vision that seemed to fuse many of the moment’s aesthetic trends.
In honor of his birthday on August 20th, we’ve rounded up articles from across the Curbed network that showcase his incredible work and important career.
Explore the TWA Terminal, a Pristine Time Capsule From 1962
Perhaps the architect’s best-loved work, this gorgeous airport design, which is currently being turned into a luxury hotel, has become a defining symbol of modernism. Curbed photographer Max Touhey captured the building before its remodel, creating a priceless record of this inspiring creation.
The Miller House: America's Unsung Midcentury Residence
American modernism is typified by three midcentury homes glorified in equal part by architecture geeks and tourists: Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, Mies Van Der Rohe's Farnsworth House, and Philip Johnson's Glass House. Now, welcome to that lofty club a house in small town Columbus, Ind., designed by Eero Saarinen with interiors by Alexander Girard and landscaping by Dan Kiley.
Eero Saarinen and His Father Built Some Fab Homes Together
As highlighted in a new book simply titled Saarinen Houses, the famous father-son duo, famous for their large-scale projects, also worked their magic on quite a few private residences sprinkled across Europe and the U.S., including the Koebel House.
Checking in on the Conversion of Saarinen's Bell Labs Complex
The redevelopment of Eero Saarinen's 1962 Bell Labs complex in Holmdel, New Jersey, a $100M adaptive reuse plan, is giving new life to the 1.9M-square-foot office park, which in its heyday, was where over 6,000 engineers and researchers worked
Here Is the $1B GM Plan to Spruce Up Saarinen's Landmark Warren Tech Center
A recent pledge by General Motors to spend $1 billion on its Warren Technical Center in Michigan not only adds jobs, but preserves a motor age architectural marvel by Eero Saarinen as grand and soaring as the tail fin of a vintage car. The auto company's plan to rebuild, renovate, and expand the plant will add 2,600 new jobs at a facility that already employs 19,000 while recommitting to the 326-acre campus, a collaborative work between Saarinen and landscape architect Thomas Church that was nicknamed the "Versailles of Industry" in its heyday.
21 First Drafts: Eero Saarinen's J.F. Spencer House
Timed with the arrival of Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius to the States, this work in Michigan placed the younger Saarinen firmly in the Modernist camp.
Inside Eero Saarinen's Renovated New Haven Tudor, One of His Last Projects
Located in East Rock, an upscale neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut, within walking distance of Yale’s campus, this Neo-Tudor home from 1913 looks like the antithesis of a modern architect’s home. But inside the traditional interior, the home’s clean, crisp lines provide a clue to its famous former owner and one-time renovator, Eero Saarinen.
Eero Saarinen Had a Secret CIA Career Modeling 'Devices' During WWII
In a startling revelation, it turns out the dapper architect was also a contributor to the CIA, designing buildings and devices for the government during the war.