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Eero Saarinen

General Motors Technical Center

Designer: Saarinen, Eero (1910-1961)
Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1957)

The son of an architect (who was also a Royal Gold Medallist), Saarinen studied with his father before going to Yale to formally study architecture. His fellow students included Charles and Ray Eames, and with Charles, he won first prize for a chair entered in the 1940 competition Organic Design in Home Furnishings. This chair was one of several Saarinen designs to be taken into production by the Knoll furniture company - the co-founder Florence (Schust) Knoll had been at college with Saarinen.

After Saarinen graduated from Yale, he toured Europe and North Africa before returning to the United States to teach and work for his father.


During the Second World War, Saarinen worked for the military in the Office of Strategic Studies where he drew illustrations for bomb manuals, and provided drawings for the Situation Room in the White House.


After his father's death in 1950, Saarinen established his own practice and his work included the Jefferson Memorial Gateway Arch (1948), the TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport (1962), and the main terminal of Dulles International Airport, Washington DC (1958-62). Saarinen advanced the use of thin-shell concrete structures in the United States, particularly in his work at the Ingalls Rink, Yales University. He served on the jury for the Sydney Opera House competition and was considered a critical voice in the selection of Jørn Utzon.


Saarinen was nominated just once for the Royal Gold Medal.