CREATING CORPORATE STYLE
Eero Saarinen demonstrated a deep understanding of architecture’s value in
creating a company’s image, often using new building technologies to help brand
forward thinking corporations. For his business clients, Saarinen and his office
made the earliest architectural use of self-rusting Cor-ten steel and designed
the first mirror glass curtain wall and the world’s thinnest exterior wall panel.
Saarinen also pioneered, and ultimately mastered, the development of a new office
typology: the corporate campus. Occupying pristine rural settings, these business
complexes reinvented the traditional country estate and the American college
campus in terms of modern corporate programs, similarly evoking power and authority.
The 25-building, $100-million General Motors Technical Center in suburban Detroit,
completed in 1956, was Saarinen’s first realized example of this new type. It
earned him tremendous publicity, including the cover of Time magazine, and
established the design and public relations strategies for future corporate
commissions, from IBM to Bell Laboratories and John Deere and Company.