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May2009
HOME It’s (Not) a Small World After All Message in a Bottle An Architecture of Plurality Linked By Law Totally YouTubular Languages on Loan What Started as a Haven . . . Became a Home
An Architecture of Plurality

Finnish-American Eero Saarinen (Aug. 20, 1910 – Sept. 1, 1961) is considered one of the masters of American 20th-century architecture. His designs include such striking edifices as the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the main terminal of Dulles International Airport and the Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center. His design was often noted for its pluralism, in that he varied his style according to the demands of the project.

Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Virginia. 1958-1963 Chair Designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen for the "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" Competition. 1940

Saarinen began his studies at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, under the tutelage of his father. Joining him were fellow students Charles and Ray Eames, with whom he would go on to collaborate on furniture designs. His and Charles’ “Tulip Chair” became the basis of the seating used on the original Star Trek television series. He graduated from the Yale School of Architecture in 1934.

Saarinen became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1940 and joined the military Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He was assigned to draw illustrations for bomb-disassembly manuals and to provide designs for the Situation Room in the White House. After his father's death in 1950, Saarinen founded his own architecture firm, “Eero Saarinen and Associates.”

When photographer Balthazar Korab arrived in the U.S. in 1955, Saarinen employed him to photograph the architectural process. In 2007, Korab donated some 800 images to the Library that document 19 of Saarinen’s design projects. Included in the collection are corporate headquarters, airports, university facilities, embassies, private residences, churches, a museum and the monumental arch.

In 1988, Ray Eames donated a collection of more than one million items of the work she and her husband Charles had done, including biographical material, correspondence, research files, scripts, catalogs, financial records, architectural and furniture designs, posters and films for corporate and government bodies. "The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention" is an online exhibition based on the collection, with additional items featured from the collections of the Vitra Design Museum and from Lucia Eames, daughter of Charles Eames.

The Library is also home to the Center for Architecture, Design and Engineering. In addition to the Eameses and Saarinen, the Library’s holdings also include the work and papers of such notables as Frank Lloyd Wright, I.M. Pei, and Pierre Charles L’Enfant.

The Americam Memory presentation American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920, provides historical materials related to the history of American design and provides an understanding of the turn-of-the-century culture, challenges and opportunities that were created as the nation industrialized and urban centers flourished. In addition, these materials reflect the relationship between humans and the environment in images related to westward expansion and architecture and design.


A. Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Virginia. 1958-1963. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-krb-00754 (digital file from original); Call No.: LC-KRB00- 721[P&P]

B. Chair Designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen for the "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" Competition. 1940. Courtesy of Vitra Design Museum. Reproduction Information: Not available for reproduction.