To Do: Eero Saarinen Exhibit at the National Building Museum

Take a look back at the work of one of the most prolific, unorthodox, and controversial architects of the 20th century.

After his death in 1961, Finnish-born architect Eero Saarinen’s office bequeathed his drawings, ephemera, and personal correspondence to Yale. “Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future,” May 3 through August 23, marks the first time the public will be able to see those papers. “The material is fresh,” says National Building Museum curator Martin Moeller. “It establishes a context of his work and life. Saarinen grew up in a remarkable family—his mother was an artist, his father an architect. They lived in an artists’ colony and, after they immigrated to the United States, Cranbrook Academy outside Detroit, which the elder Saarinen headed. Eero Saarinen was always exposed to talented people—in architecture, furniture design, painting, and sculpture.”

Moeller says we’re lucky to have in our midst what he calls Saarinen’s finest design, Dulles Airport, begun in 1958 and completed four years later: “It is a great example of his ability to choreograph the architectural experience. The mobile lounges—a Saarinen innovation—were designed as areas where smartly dressed women and men traveling in their best business suits were served drinks.” Not anymore.

National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW; 202-272-2448.

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