Finnish Cultural Institute in New York
799 Broadway, Suite 527
New York, NY 10003
t: +1.212.674.5570 f: +1.212.674.5614
info[at]eerosaarinen.net

FORGING COMMUNITY

Eero Saarinen sought to forge a sense of community and common identity in his designs for college campuses, churches, and theaters. Saarinen’s influential religious and cultural buildings adopted open or centralized plans and iconic forms that unified clergy and congregation, performer and audience. In his master plans and buildings for such colleges and universities as Vassar, Concordia, and Yale, his alma mater, Saarinen aimed to balance student comfort and privacy with amenities that encouraged social interaction. Expanding in response to the postwar boom in higher education and the increasing enrollment of women, college campuses offered Saarinen the best opportunities to achieve a total environment, largely inspired by his father’s Cranbrook campus. Seeking to relate his new buildings to these campuses’ historic fabric, Saarinen showed an interest in context that not only anticipated architectural concerns of the 1960s and 1970s, but also refuted the criticism that he produced only signature buildings without regard to local circumstances.