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Slate on Saarinen

The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., calls Eero Saarinen “the least-known famous architect of the 20th Century.” This illuminating, illustrated primer at Slate does something to change that. So does Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future, which moves at summer’s end from the National to Minneapolis, where the Walker and Minneapolis Institute of Art are […]

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The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., calls Eero Saarinen “the least-known famous architect of the 20th Century.” This illuminating, illustrated primer at Slate does something to change that. So does Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future, which moves at summer’s end from the National to Minneapolis, where the Walker and Minneapolis Institute of Art are divvying up the exhibition (opening in both locales September 13).

One reason the exhibition is headed here — the Walker’s design director and curator, Andrew Blauvelt, studied and later taught at Cranbrook, the school that gave birth to both Eero and his influential father, Eliel.

  • Robert Perschmann says:

    On my way to the planets

    When I was nineteen years old, I arrived at the new TWA terminal on my way to Sweden… from Minneapolis to New York on a DC6 prop plane with wood trim in the cabin. It was my first airplane experience. I had heard about the terminal and I had all day to await my flight to Goteborg. I enjoyed the full experience. I felt it was the future… and I could just as easily be on my way to the planets. Yes, it knocked me out and gave me such incredible expectations for the future. Not much later… I am in the US Air Force assigned to Scott Air Force Base across the river from St. Louis. I observed much of the work on the arch and, I was drawn to it. I was excited to see the completion approaching. I have experienced its magnificent and subtle joys and I understood its message.

    Several years later I was out of the Air Force and working to end the Cold War. I had become an expert on the USSR of the 1980’s. I was part of the historic Mississippi Peace cruises on the Delta Queen which brought members of the Soviet press to the heart of America, including long dockings at the arch. The Gateway Arch knocked the Russians out. Russians are used to magnificent monuments mind you. I think that the river cruise started the ending of the cold war with the story brought back to Moscow by Soviet TV. It was also a huge media event for Americans… finally putting thousands of middle Americans face to face with a large dose of Soviet people. At this point I had yet to pay attention to the name Saarinen.

    So in 2007 I happen upon a photo of the Saarinen tulip table and chairs. It reminds me of my day at the TWA terminal and my dreams of the future. That in turn reminds me of the Gateway Arch. What a huge joy this Eero Saarinen had brought to me. And this moves me to put that beautiful tulip table and chairs in my kitchen. Now… every single day I have breakfast at my Saarinen table. I rotate my chair for a panoramic view out my window, without straining my neck. The chair is so comfortable that I stay there until I have read two newspapers. Unfortunately I read new cold war propaganda in the paper. But, thank you Mr. Saarinen for your contribution to my beautiful, exciting and wonderful life.

  • Vicki Webster says:

    Message for Robert Perschmann:

    Dear Mr. Perschmann,

    As you may not know, the Delta Queen, of which you spoke in your message, will be forced to cease operations at midnight on October 31, 2008, unless she is granted an extention of her 40-year exemption to the Safety at Sea Law. This law, passed in 1966, was intended to cover ocean-going vessels, not riverboats. I am leading a grassroots movement to save this National Historic Landmark, which is the last traditional steamboat carrying overnight passengers on our inland waterways. Your help would be invaluable. Can you contact me, please?

    Vicki Webster

    The Save the Delta Queen Campaign

    335 W. Fifth Street #401

    Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

    (513) 381-3571

    vjw@olypen.com