Son of pioneering Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen (August 20, 1910 – September 1, 1961) was not only born on the same day, but carried his father's later rational Art Deco into a neofuturist internationalism, regularly using sweeping curves and abundant glass. Saarinen's simple design motifs allowed him to be incredibly adaptable, turning his talent to furniture design with Charles Eames and producing radically different buildings for different clients. Despite his short career as a result of his young death, Saarinen gained incredible success and plaudits, winning some of the most sought-after commissions of the mid-twentieth century.
Just off the highway that leads to the town of Columbus, Indiana, the most slender of spires shoots upward from the tree line. With only a small gold cross at the top suggesting its purpose, the spire seems to belong to another world, an expressive gesture reaching into the sky that extends far beyond its visible tip. As visitors approach, the base of the spire fans out and merges with the ground, subsuming it and metaphysically bridging the distance between the heavens and the Earth. This is the famous North Christian Church, Eero Saarinen’s stunning discourse on God, nature and architecture.
This text was provided by San Francisco-based writer Kenneth Caldwell.
One friend said, “It looks a bit austere.” At first glance, it probably is. But like so many great minimal environments, it asks for patience and generosity. You give, and in turn it gives back.
This is also what the artists Mark Rothko, Richard Serra, Donald Judd, and, more recently, Olafur Eliasson ask. Trust them with your time and you may be rewarded with a small measure of serenity—perhaps even with the connection between art and the divine that Dominique de Menil was so focused on.
Designed by Louis Kahn, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is an outdoor sanctuary at the southern tip of what is now called Roosevelt Island, created as a memorial to FDR. The park opened last fall. Kahn’s gift took 40 years to be realized, but it presents a path for human beings to treat each other to peace.
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