Mark Lamster | Essays

Eero Saarinen at 100


Eero Saarinen, who died prematurely in 1961, would have been 100 years old today. (I hadn't noticed; a friend pointed it out on Twitter.) So much ink has been spilled about Saarinen in recent years, including by me and his best work seems so fresh, that it's hard to believe he's been gone for nearly half a century.

The "Style for the Job" man, so often disparaged by critics in his own time, now has a comfortable place in the pantheon of American architects. I'm glad that the work we did at Princeton Architectural Press, publishing a book on the TWA Terminal and then a monograph on his work, helped to open the floodgates of a new era of Saarinen scholarship.

I have the privilege of spending a great deal of time at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony. In the late 1930s, the BSO wanted a concert hall for their new property in Lenox, Mass. and commissioned Eliel Saarinen to design it. But they didn't have the budget and he told them, eventually, that all they could afford was a shed. Eero worked on that design. It's a utilitarian structure, a simple wedge open at the sides, not especially well detailed (not detailed at all). It is sited beautifully, however, and like so much of Eero's work, it gets the job done. There's no better place to spend two hours. The orchestral accompaniment doesn't hurt.

Posted in: Architecture

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