The Sky's The Limit
Philip Berger -- Interior Design, 11/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Back in 1956, this is what the future looked like: a tribute to American industry that could have been mistaken for a 138-foot-tall alien outpost, rendered in stainless steel. A visit to this landmark water tower on the campus of the General Motors Corporation technical center, rarely open to the public, was one of the highlights of a symposium hosted by the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, during the North American debut of "Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future."
While the Finnish-born architect's portfolio contains some of the most familiar and emblematic designs of the mid-20th century—from New York's TWA terminal and St. Louis's Gateway Arch to the Womb chair and Tulip table—this is the first retrospective in the 46 years since his death. Curator Donald Albrecht says the venture wouldn't have been possible without Saarinen's archive, which Kevin Roche, once the senior designer at Eero Saarinen and Associates, donated to Yale University. The Bloomfield Hills stop on the exhibition's long international road trip is especially sentimental, as Saarinen grew up in the Detroit suburb while his parents taught at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Five decades ago, Saarinen's designs were radical. In hindsight, contemporary innovations in non-rectilinear forms reveal the long-term impact of his work. Think Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.