Eliel Saarinen

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Works First Christian Church, at Columbus, Indiana, 1940 to 1942.
Crow Island School, at Winnetka, Illinois, 1939 to 1940.
Hvittrask, at outside Helsinki, Finland, 1902.

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Eliel Saarinen

(b. Rantasalmi, Finland 1873; d. Michigan 1950)

Eliel Saarinen was born in Rantasalmi, Finland in 1873. After he graduated from Helsinki Polytechnic, he practiced with Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren. In 1923 he emigrated to the U.S. where he designed and then taught at Cranbrook. His son, Eero, became his partner in 1937.

Saarinen's early monumentality owes much to the Vienna Secession movement. His designs expressed a Nordic refinement of the European Art Nouveau. Saarinen's work depended on the integration of cultural symbolism with material and form. His work also owed much to the combined precedents of Finnish farm settlements and the Arts & Crafts movement.

Saarinen borrowed from the forms and materials of both past and present, regional and international. He abstracted classical style and Finnish vernacular to suit the Finnish sensibility. By 1902 his buildings began to exhibit the clean massing and heaviness of traditional Finnish buildings. Because of the simplicity of his designs, he was linked to minimalism.

Eliel Saarinen died in Michigan in 1950.

Dennis Sharp. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture. New York: Quatro Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0-8230-2539-X. NA40.I45. p132-133.

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