Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Eero Saarinen - An Architect of Geometry

It's supposed to be my "day off" today, and I'm hoping I actually will get a few hours late this afternoon to have my weekly chat with Aearwen and catch up on some things that fell behind over the holidays. But no guarantees. It's our 4-Day End of the Year Sale and we're busy. Busy is good! But busy also means I'm needed at work instead of at home. So I squeezed my laundry chores in yesterday and will do the other half later this week, and I'm pushing to get out of the shop no later than 2:00 pm if customer numbers permit. We'll see. ... I'm crossing my fingers.

The St Louis Arch is one of Eero Saarinen's more famous structures. He
died before it was completed, but won a design competition over a
design submitted by his father. It's such a striking form moving into the sky. 

Last night on PBS, "American Masters" featured architect Eero Saarinen. He made some super wonderful buildings but the thing I know him for is the first design of "The Tent" for the Aspen Music Festival. "The Tent" is currently in it's third evolution and now seats 2500 people, but when it first started out, it was an actual canvas tent seating less than 1000 people on its hard bench seating with tie-on cushions. I remember the sound of the wind when a storm kicked up in that original tent as well as in the second evolution. There were rather dramatic problems with leaks down the main tent poles, and the audience would sometimes get quite wet.

He worked for a lot of corporations including GM, but this design he made
for an airport terminal for TWA was revolutionary. Of course, TWA no
longer exists, but my understanding is that the building is going to be
reworked into a hotel. Buildings need people and activity to live, so I
really hope that happens. 

The structure that most of you would identify with him is the St Louis Arch - a stunning landmark for the town that was the "Gateway to the West". It was in St Louis that the Conestoga wagons gathered to cross the broad, dangerous Mississippi River and head west to the gold fields of Colorado and California or the agricultural valleys of the Pacific Northwest. St Louis has a unique history of progress and passages celebrated in the soaring steel of this amazing structure.

The entire roof of the Kresge Auditorium on the campus of MIT rests upon
three small points, one of which you can see at the left. He designed with
sweeping curves and remarkable geometry, carving the designs out in
balsa before trying to transmit the designs over to paper. 

I don't do a lot with Pinterest, but one of the boards I do have set up is Modern Architecture. I love buildings and designs that are unique and revolutionary. I balance that board out with one on Abandoned Spaces - what comes up must go down. A good reminder to all. It's been a very tough year for a lot of my friends and customers - several customers have lost loved ones in December, one gym friend's niece committed suicide last week, and several friends are still in the hospital. I think I'm more than ready to say good-bye to 2016.

Ice Rinks are usually uninspiring architecture, but the Ingalls Rink on
the campus of Yale University is another story. The wood and steel structure
is like an upturned Viking boat, the acoustics are amazing, and the
interior is magnificent. What a departure from the usual boring pre-fab. 

Have a great Wednesday. Start looking ahead to 2017 - I think we need some positive things in our lives (while we ignore our political morass). I hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures of some of the creations of this amazing architect. Have a happy day!

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