Eliel Saarinen

Gottlieb Eliel Saarinen (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈeliel ˈsɑːrinen]; August 20, 1873 – July 1, 1950) was a Finnish architect known for his work with art nouveau buildings in the early years of the 20th century. He was the father of Eero Saarinen.

Gottlieb Eliel Saarinen
Eliel Saarinen
Eliel Saarinen
BornAugust 20, 1873
DiedJuly 1, 1950 (aged 76)
Spouse(s)Loja Saarinen
AwardsAIA Gold Medal
BuildingsHelsinki Central railway station

National Museum of Finland
Vyborg railway station

Kleinhans Music Hall
ProjectsFinnish pavilion at the World Fair of 1900
DesignFinnish markka banknotes introduced in 1922

Life and work in Finland

Saarinen was educated in Helsinki at the Helsinki University of Technology. From 1896 to 1905 he worked as a partner with Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren at the firm Gesellius, Lindgren, and Saarinen. His first major work with the firm, the Finnish pavilion at the Paris 1900 World Fair, exhibited an extraordinary convergence of stylistic influences: Finnish wooden architecture, the British Gothic Revival, and the Jugendstil. Saarinen's early manner was later christened the Finnish National Romanticism and culminated in the Helsinki Central railway station (designed 1904, constructed 1910-14).

From 1910 to 1915 he worked on the extensive city-planning project of Munksnäs-Haga and later published a book on the subject. In January 1911 he became a consultant in city planning for Tallinn, Estonia and was invited to Budapest to advise in city development. In 1912, a brochure written by Saarinen about the planning problems of Budapest was published. He was runner up behind Walter Burley Griffin in an international competition to design the new Australian capital city of Canberra in 1912, but the following year he received the first place award in an international competition for his plan of Reval. From 1917 to 1918 Saarinen worked on the city-plan for greater Helsinki. He also designed a series of postage stamps issued 1917 and the Finnish markka banknotes introduced in 1922.

After the divorce from his first wife, Mathilde (who then married Herman Gesellius), on March 6, 1904 Saarinen married his second wife, Louise (Loja) Gesellius, a sculptor in Helsinki, and the younger sister of Herman Gesellius. They had a daughter Eva-Lisa (Pipsan) on March 31, 1905 and a son Eero on August 20, 1910.

Move to the United States

Eliel Saarinen moved to the United States in 1923 after his competition entry for the Tribune Tower in Chicago, Illinois won second place and so was not built; the most faithful realization of it is the 1929 Gulf Building in Houston. Saarinen first settled in Evanston, Illinois, where he worked on his scheme for the development of the Chicago lake front. In 1924 he became a visiting professor at the University of Michigan.

In 1925 George Gough Booth asked him to design the campus of Cranbrook Educational Community, intended to be an American equivalent to the Bauhaus. Saarinen taught there and became president of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1932. Among his student-collaborators were Ray Eames (then Ray Kaiser) and Charles Eames; Saarinen influenced their subsequent furniture design.

In c. 1934, Eliel Saarinen was involved in product design for the Wilcox Silver Plate Co. / International Silver Company in Meriden, CT. His iconic tea urn (c. 1934) was first exhibited in 1934-35 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.[1] Over the years, the tea urn has been widely exhibited, including in St. Louis Modern (2015–16) at the St Louis Museum of Art,[2] Cranbrook Goes to the Movies: Films and Their Objects, 1925–1975 at the Cranbrook Art Museum (2014–15).,[3] and in 2005-07, in the touring exhibition Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design, organized by the Dallas Museum of Art, which also travelled to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.[4] In 1951-52, the tea urn was featured in the Eliel Saarinen Memorial Exhibition which travelled to multiple venues across the United States. In addition to Cranbrook, the Dallas Museum and the St Louis Museum, The British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art also hold tea urn-related Eliel Saarinen designs.[5]

Eliel Saarinen became a professor in the University of Michigan's Architecture Department.

His son, Eero (1910–1961), became one of the most important American architects of the mid-20th century, as one of the leaders of the International style. Saarinen's student Edmund N. Bacon achieved national prominence as Executive Director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission from 1949 to 1970.

Eliel received the AIA Gold Medal in 1947.

Significant works

Haga vy
Saarinen designed entire city districts of Helsinki, but they were never built due to cost. This picture shows his plan for the Haaga district.
Work Location Finished Picture
Finnish Pavilion at the Exposition Universelle Designed with Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren Paris 1900 Finnish Pavilion at Paris 1900.jpg
Hvitträsk Kirkkonummi 1902 Hvitträsk1.JPG
National Museum of Finland Helsinki 1904 Helsinki Kansallismuseo 2006.jpg
Helsinki Central railway station Helsinki 1909 Helsinki Railway Station 20050604.jpg
Lahti Town Hall Lahti 1911 Lahti city hall.jpg
Vyborg railway station Vyborg 1913 Asematori-Viipuri.jpg
Joensuu Town Hall Joensuu 1914 Joensuun kaupungintalo.jpg
Saint Paul's Church Tartu 1917 Tartu Pauluse kirik 2008.JPG
Marble Palace Helsinki 1918 Itäinen Puistotie 1.jpg
Munkkiniemi Pension house Helsinki 1920 Munkkiniemen pensionaatti.jpg
Koussevitzky Music Shed Lenox 1938 Tanglewood Music Shed and Lawn, Lenox, MA.JPG
Kleinhans Music Hall Buffalo 1940 Kleinhans buffalo.jpg
Crow Island School Winnetka 1940-41 Crow Island School.jpg
First Christian Church Columbus, IN 1942 FirstChristianChurch.jpg
Cranbrook Educational Community Bloomfield Hills 1940's Cranbrook Tower and Quadrangle.jpg
Des Moines Art Center Des Moines 1948 Des Moines Art Center.jpg
Christ Church Lutheran Minneapolis 1949 Christ Church Lutheran 1.jpg


  1. ^ (January–February 1935). "At Metropolitan Museum: Silverware executed by International Silver Co. in Contemporary American Industrial Art Exhibit". artdesigncafe.com / International Silver Standard, International Silver Co. newsletter, 3(4), pp. 6-7. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  2. ^ (September 8, 2015)."Press release: Saint Louis Art Museum marks Gateway Arch anniversary with St. Louis Modern". St. Louis Art Museum. Retrieved January 1, 2017).
  3. ^ (Undated). "Exhibition detail: Cranbrook Goes to the Movies Films and Their Objects, 1925–1975". Cranbrook Art Museum website. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  4. ^ Stern, Jewel. (2005). "Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design". Dallas Museum of Art and Yale University Press. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  5. ^ (March 16, 2016). "Wilcox Silver Plate Co. designs in collections, at auction, and in exhibitions". Design Meriden / artdesigncafe.com. Retrieved January 1, 2017.

Further reading

  • Saarinen, Eliel (1985). The search for form in art and architecture. New York: Dover.
  • Saarinen, Eliel (1943). The City: Its Growth, its decay, its future. New York: Reinhold publishing corporation.
  • Hausen, Marika (ed) (1984). Eliel Saarinen: 1873-1950 - Works in Finland. Helsinki: Museum of Finnish Architecture.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • A&E with Richard Guy Wilson, Ph.D.,(2000). America's Castles: Newspaper Moguls, Pittock Mansion, Cranbrook House & Gardens, The American Swedish Institute. A&E Television Network.
  • Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3.
  • Pelkonen, Eeva-Liisa (2006). Eero Saarinen. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11282-3.

External links

1910 in architecture

The year 1910 in architecture involved some significant architectural events and new buildings.

American Modern

American Modern was a distinct American design aesthetic formed in the period between 1925 and World War II. American Modern was created by a pioneering group of designers, architects and artists, among them were Norman Bel Geddes, Donald Deskey, Henry Dreyfuss, Paul Frankl, William Lescaze, Raymond Loewy, Gilbert Rohde, Eliel Saarinen, Walter Dorwin Teague, Kem Weber and Russel Wright. Their impact on the daily lives of ordinary Americans is exemplified through a wide array of objects including furniture, glassware, ceramics, textiles, metalwork, household appliances, automobiles, airplanes and graphic arts. American Modern is distinguished by the absence of traditional ornament, the use of new technologies and materials, and the application of mass-production techniques to create affordable objects for the expanding middle class.

Cranbrook Educational Community

The Cranbrook Educational Community, an education, research and public museum complex in the US state of Michigan. A National Historic Landmark, it was founded in early 20th century by newspaper mogul George Gough Booth. Cranbrook campus is in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills consisting of Cranbrook Schools, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cranbrook Art Museum, Cranbrook Institute of Science and Cranbrook House and Gardens. The founders also built Christ Church Cranbrook as a focal point in order to serve the educational complex, though the church is a separate entity under the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. The sprawling, 319 acre (129 hectare) campus began as a 174-acre (70 ha) farm, purchased in 1904. The organization takes its name from Cranbrook, England, the birthplace of the founder's father.

Cranbrook is renowned for its architecture in the Arts and Crafts and Art Deco styles. The chief architect was Eliel Saarinen with Albert Kahn responsible for the Booth mansion, 1908,1919. Sculptors Carl Milles and Marshall Fredericks also spent many years in residence at Cranbrook.

Eero Saarinen

Eero Saarinen (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈeːro ˈsɑːrinen]) (August 20, 1910 – September 1, 1961) was a Finnish American architect and industrial designer noted for his neo-futuristic style. Saarinen is known for designing the Washington Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., the TWA Flight Center in New York City, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. He was the son of noted Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen.

Eliel Saarinen's Tribune Tower design

Eliel Saarinen's Tribune Tower design or the Saarinen tower are terms used to describe the unnamed and unbuilt design for a modernist skyscraper, created by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen and submitted in 1922 for the Chicago Tribune's architectural competition for a new headquarters. The winning entry, the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower, was built in 1925. Saarinen's entry came in second place yet became influential in the design of a number of future buildings.

Eric Saarinen

Eric Saarinen (26 June 1942) is a Finnish American cinematographer and film director. His parents were the famous architect Eero Saarinen and his first wife, sculptor Lilian Swann Saarinen.Saarinen has photographed several features, including Lost in America directed by Albert Brooks. Saarinen was the cinematographer on Exploratorium, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 47th Academy Awards in 1974. In 1982 he finished the film Symbiosis, which was shown in Walt Disney World for 28 million people. It was filmed in 24 countries on 70 mm film.Saarinen has directed and co-produced a document about his father's work in PBS series American Masters. His parents divorced when Eric was 12 years old. As a student he worked in his father's office, but he did not became as passionate about architecture as his father or his grandfather, Eliel Saarinen.

Gesellius, Lindgren, and Saarinen

Gesellius, Lindgren, and Saarinen was a Finnish architecture firm in Helsinki. The firm was formed in 1896 and consisted of Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren, and Eliel Saarinen. In 1905 Lindgren became head of the architecture school at Helsinki University of Technology and withdrew from the firm. Gesellius and Saarinen continued as partners until 1907.

Golden Age of Finnish Art

The Golden Age of Finnish Art coincided with the national awakening during the time 1880–1910. Themes during the period were often influenced by Kalevala and were visible in visual arts, literature, music and architecture of the time. Central figure of the time was Akseli Gallen-Kallela. Other notable figures were Pekka Halonen, Albert Edelfelt, Jean Sibelius, Eino Leino, Helene Schjerfbeck, Eero Järnefelt, Emil Wikström and Eliel Saarinen.

Finnish art became known also in Europe at Paris 1900 World Fair, where Finnish pavilion was one of the most popular pavilions.

Helsinki Central Station

Helsinki Central Station (Finnish: Helsingin päärautatieasema, Swedish: Helsingfors centralstation) HEC is the main station for commuter rail and long-distance trains departing from Helsinki, Finland. The station is used by approximately 400,000 people per day, of which about 200,000 are passengers. It serves as the terminus for all trains in the Helsinki commuter rail network, as well as for all Helsinki-bound long-distance trains in Finland. The Central Railway Station metro station is located in the same building.

The station building was designed by Eliel Saarinen and inaugurated in 1919. Helsinki Central was chosen as one of the world's most beautiful railway stations by BBC in 2013.

Herman Gesellius

Herman Ernst Henrik Gesellius (16 January 1874 in Helsinki – 24 March 1916 in Kirkkonummi) was a Finnish architect.

Gesellius graduated from the Helsinki University of Technology in 1897. In 1896 he founded the architecture firm Gesellius, Lindgren, and Saarinen, with Armas Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen.

The most famous work projected under his own name is the Wuorio House (Wuorion talo) in Union Street (Unioninkatu), Helsinki. Gesellius designed it from 1908 to 1909, and Lindgren completed it from 1913 to 1914. It features architectural sculpture by Felix Nylund (1878–1940).

Gesllius withdrew from architectural work in 1912 because of serious illness. He died in 1916 of throat cancer.


Hvitträsk was designed to be a studio home for the members of the Finnish architecture firm Gesellius, Lindgren, and Saarinen. It later became the private residence of Eliel Saarinen. It is located about 30 kilometers (19 mi) west of Helsinki in Kirkkonummi, Finland.

The design was developed and construction began during the year of 1902. The house was named after Lake Vitträsk, on which it was built. [H]vitträsk literally means White Lake. Today Hvitträsk is a museum open to the public.


Kirkkonummi (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈkirkːoˌnumːi]; Swedish: Kyrkslätt [²ɕʏrːkslɛt]) is a municipality of 39,293 inhabitants (31 August 2018) in southern Finland. The literal meaning of the words "Kirkkonummi" and "Kyrkslätt" in English is "church heath".

The municipality is located just outside the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, bordering the city of Espoo in the east. Other neighbouring municipalities are Vihti and Siuntio. The distance from the municipal centre to central Helsinki is some 30 kilometres (20 mi). Kirkkonummi also has excellent train and bus connections to other parts of the Greater Helsinki area, and many of its inhabitants commute daily to Helsinki.

The municipality covers an area of 1,017.01 square kilometres (392.67 sq mi) of which 649.91 km2 (250.93 sq mi) is water. The population density is 107.33 inhabitants per square kilometre (278.0/sq mi). Over the recent years, Kirkkonummi has faced the highest population growth rate in the country, over 3% per annum.

Major population centres in Kirkkonummi include the municipal centre, Masala, Veikkola, Kantvik and the Upinniemi naval garrison area. In addition to these, there are dozens of smaller villages. Geographically, Kirkkonummi has two famous peninsulas, namely Porkkala and Upinniemi, the latter one of which houses a major Finnish naval base. Porkkala is also on one of the main bird migration routes in the Baltic Sea region. Additionally, Kirkkonummi has a large central plains area, through which a railway goes from Helsinki to Turku as well as extensive lake areas, much of which is relatively untouched wilderness.

Kirkkonummi has been populated from the Stone Age to the present day as evidenced by the very first Stone Age rock paintings found in Finland that are located by lake Vitträsk in the central lake region of Kirkkonummi. Incidentally, these paintings were found by the famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius himself. The southern half of the municipality was leased to the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1956 for use as a naval base as part of the peace settlement that ended the hostilities between the Soviet Union and Finland during World War II. Signs of this time include concrete bunkers, other fortifications and the remains of an airbase.

Other places of interest located in Kirkkonummi include the medieval stone church in the municipal centre, the wooden church in the village of Haapajärvi as well as the Hvitträsk manor designed by Finnish architects Eliel Saarinen, Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren.

Kleinhans Music Hall

Kleinhans Music Hall is a 2,400 seat music venue located on Symphony Circle in Buffalo, New York. The home of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, was built in the late 1930s and opened October 1940. The music hall was built as a part of the last will and testament of Edward L. and Mary Seaton Kleinhans, owners of the Kleinhans men's clothing store. The couple left close to 1 million dollars for the music hall's construction. The building was designed by Eliel Saarinen with his son, Eero Saarinen and "was recognized as one of the greatest concert halls ever built in the United States". It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989 and "is renowned for its acoustical excellence and graceful architecture."

Lahti Town Hall

Lahti Town Hall was designed in 1911 by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. The building was completed in 1912.Material used for building, dark bricks, were brought from Sweden.

List of works by Eero Saarinen

This is a list of houses, commercial buildings, educational facilities, furniture designs, and other structures designed by architect Eero Saarinen. Many of Saarinen's early designs were in collaboration with his father Eliel Saarinen.

Loja Saarinen

Loja Saarinen (1879-1968) was a Finnish-American textile artist and sculptor who founded the weaving department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. She also led her own studio, the Studio Loja Saarinen, which designed many of the textiles used in buildings designed by her husband, the architect Eliel Saarinen.

Longfellow (neighborhood), Minneapolis

Longfellow is a neighborhood within the larger Longfellow community in Minneapolis, United States. It is bounded by Seward to the North, Cooper to the East, Howe to the South, and Corcoran and East Phillips to the West. It was named after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote The Song of Hiawatha. It is populated by a diverse, predominantly middle-class (working class) population. More expensive homes are located closer to the river, and almost all of the housing stock is composed of Sears Modern Homes in the Bungalow style.

The Eliel Saarinen-designed Christ Church Lutheran, First Free Methodist, and the East Lake Community Library building are located in this neighborhood.


Munkkiniemi (Swedish: Munksnäs, Helsinki slang: Munkka) is a neighbourhood in Helsinki. Subdivisions within the district are Vanha Munkkiniemi, Kuusisaari, Lehtisaari, Munkkivuori, Niemenmäki and Talinranta.

The land in Munkkiniemi was from the 17th century a part of Munksnäs manor. In the 1910s grandiose plans were made to expand all of western Helsinki with tens of thousands of new inhabitants, the so-called Munksnäs-Haga plan by Eliel Saarinen. The construction of the new areas started slowly and it wasn't until the 1930s that a more extensive construction phase began in Munkkiniemi. From 1920 to 1946 Munkkiniemi was part of Huopalahti municipality. Huopalahti including Munkkiniemi was incorporated with Helsinki in 1946.

Munkkiniemi is one of the more affluent areas of Helsinki. Characterized by the relatively high proportion of Swedish speakers, around twelve percent, and a socioeconomic structure heavy on upper management and professionals, the district is appreciated as a particularly safe and well-serviced part of the city. This is reflected in the high prices of housing.


Saarinen is a Finnish surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Aarne Saarinen, Finnish politician

Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Finnish skier

Aline B. Saarinen (1914–1972), American art and architecture critic

Arno Saarinen, Finnish gymnast

Eliel Saarinen, Finnish architect

Eero Saarinen, son of Eliel, also a Finnish architect and furniture designer

Eeva Saarinen, Finnish breaststroke swimmer

Eric Saarinen (born 1942), American cinematographer and film director

Esa Saarinen, Finnish philosopher

Ingegerd Saarinen, Swedish politician

Jaana Saarinen, Finnish actress

Janne Saarinen, Finnish footballer

Jarno Saarinen, (1945-1973), Finnish motorcycle racer

Jenni Saarinen, Finnish figure skater

Jesse Saarinen (born 1985), Finnish ice hockey player

Johanna Saarinen (born 1973), Finnish biathlete

Lilian Swann Saarinen (1912–1995), American sculptor and artist

Mari Saarinen, Finnish ice hockey player

Martti Saarinen, Finnish singer

Olavi Saarinen, Finnish politician

Ossi Saarinen, Finnish ice hockey player

Pekka Saarinen, Finnish car racer

Sakari Saarinen, Finnish footballer

Sanna Saarinen (born 1991), Finnish women's footballer

Simo Saarinen, Finnish ice hockey player

Tero Saarinen (born 1964), Finnish dancer and choreographer

Veli Saarinen, Finnish cross-country skier

Yrjö Saarinen (1899–1977), Finnish engineer and politician

Yrjö Saarinen (painter) (1899–1958), Finnish painter

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