nen] Finnish architect
Eliel Saarinen was born in
Rantasalmi, near Varhaus, Finland, in 1873, the
son of a clergyman. He had originally intended to
be a painter, but after graduating from high
school in 1893 he enrolled in the Department of
Architecture at the Technical Institute in
Helsinki instead, and took drawing courses at
Helsinki University on the side. In 1896, a year
before he graduated, he formed an architectural
partnership with fellow students Herman Gesellius
and Armas Lindgren.
partnership got its first commission the same
year Saarinen graduated, for the Tallberg
Apartments in Helsinki. Lindgren left the
partnership in 1905, but Saarinen and Gesellius
continued their partnership until 1907. Major
projects worked on by Saarinen during this period
included the Pohjola Insurance building in
Helsinki (1899-1901), the Finnish Pavilion for
the 1900 World's Fair in Paris (1900), and the
Finnish National Museum in Helsinki (1901-1910).
In 1904, Saarinen married Gesellius's sister,
Louise, with whom he had two children -- a
daughter, Eva-Lisa, and a son, Eero.
After the partnership ended, Saarinen
expanded his practice to include city planning
projects. He became internationally famous for
his bold and simplified design for the Helsinki
railroad station, which was completed in 1914.
The plans he submitted for the design competition
also included suggestions for the urban
development surrounding the station.
In 1922, Saarinen took second
prize in a design competition for the Chicago
Tribune Tower. He and his family emigrated to the
United States the following year.
In 1925, Saarinen was asked by George G.
Booth to design buildings for the Cranbrook
Educational Center in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan,
a project Booth intended to be similar to the
Bauhaus idea in Germany. Saarinen began teaching
at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1926, and
taught at Bloomfield Hills (Cranbrook) from 1929
to his death. He also served as president of the
Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1932 to 1948.
Beginning in 1936 Saarinen was
in partnership with his son, Eero. His best known
works from the latter years of his life include
the Tabernacle Church of Christ in Columbus,
Indiana (1942), and the Christ Lutheran Church in
Eliel Saarinen died in Michigan
in 1950, and is buried at Hvitträsk, Finland.
Questions or comments about