Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future

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. His flourishing career was cut short, however, when he died of a brain tumour 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.

Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future takes place at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC from May 3 to August 23, 2008. It is the first full retrospective of Saarinen’s career, providing 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 faade 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.

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