design, sustainability, urban planning
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Eero Saarinen’s TWA in Open House New York

(TWA-terminal)

I am proud to be Finnish appreciating our architectural roots. Finnish-American Eero Saarinen’s father Eliel Saarinen was an architect visioning Finland’s future together with the architect partners Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren (the firm was established 1896). Architect-trio designed Finnish Pavilion for the World Expo in Paris is 1900s (Exposition Universelle). Finland, The Grand Duchy of Russia at that time, was first time exhibiting its designs in the own pavillion, so appearance in the expo was creating a strong sense of new future (Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917). Architects Gesellius, Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen designed Hvitträsk in Kirkkonummi (near Helsinki). Constructed in 1902, It was first the firm’s studio and became then Saarinen’s private home. The house was named after Lake Vitträsk, [H]vitträsk meaning White Lake. The striving National Romanticism and Jugend/Art Nouveau of the late 19th and early 20th century opened up the way to the modernism and futuristic agendas in the arts and design.  Finland’s national epic The Kalevala (Finland’s poems), which had been published in 1849, inspired the designers and architects with mythologies and epic poetry in the earlier times, the mythical characters might still enter the modernism in new abstract forms.

In New York, Eero Saarinen designed TWA-terinal. It opened in 1962 (another wing was added in 1969). TWA inspires with the natural organic forms and continues to be a timeless piece that shows the essence of environment in the architectural structure?  The monument does not threaten people with massive interiors, but organically pads and holds. TWA should be open for public and it should be site for great artistic works, a surrounding for innovations and discussions, as the design echoes sustainability and continuation. When TWA terminal opened it paraded modernism with red-colored seats and swanlike arches. Curvy white lines of modernism speak in the Flight Center, and it pays homage to the era in architectural history.  A question is timely today as the terminal is open to public for visit as part of the Open House New York weekend.

(below: Hvitträsk in Kirkkonummi)

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