Yale Celebrates Life, Work and Legacy of Architect Eero Saarinen

Yale University will pay homage to the legendary 20th–century architect Eero Saarinen (1910–1961) in an exhibition at Sterling Memorial Library, 120 High St., and a two–day symposium at the Yale School of Architecture (YSA), 180 York St.

Using the extensive collection of Eero Saarinen papers in the Manuscripts and Archives section of Yale’s library, five YSA students of Eeva–Liisa Pelkonen have designed and mounted an exhibition focusing on the David S. Ingalls Rink at Yale. Known familiarly as the “Yale Whale,” Ingall’s Rink ranks with the iconic St. Louis Memorial Arch and the landmark TWA terminal at Kennedy Airport as among Saarinen’s most original and celebrated works. The exhibition draws on sketches, photographs, drawings and correspondence to reveal the network of relationships that enabled Saarinen, who was a Yale alumnus, to create the Ingalls Rink. The exhibition opens in the Library’s Memorabilia Room on February 28 and will remain through April.

The Library exhibition coincides with a research symposium titled, “Eero Saarinen, Form–Giver of the ‘American Century,’ ” which will take place at the School of Architecture on April 1 and 2.

Chaired by Pelkonen, the symposium will gather scholars, architects, designers and film–makers, as well as several of Saarinen’s former colleagues, to explore the enduring legacy of one the most important masters of 20th–century architecture. Saarinen’s contributions to the changing practice of architecture, the increasing role of technology, the advent of stylistic plurality and the meaning of form will be highlighted throughout the symposium.

The first session begins on Friday at 3:30 p.m., with opening remarks by Pelkonen. The session features presentations by Mark Coir, Cranbrook Archives and Cultural Properties, on the “Cranbrook factor”; Will Miller, Irwin Financial Corporation, on the Saarinen and Irwin connection; and independent curator Donald Albrecht, on Saarinen and his clients. The response will be given by Sarah Goldhagen of Harvard. The moderator is Timo Tuomi of the Museum of Finnish Architecture. The afternoon session will include a preview of a film documentary on Saarinen by Bill Ferehawk, Bill Kubota and Ed Moore of KDN Videoworks, Inc.

The distinguished architectural historian and Yale Sterling Professor emeritus Vincent Scully will give the symposium’s keynote address, which is also the Paul Rudolph Lecture, at 6:30 p.m.

The Saturday morning session starts at 9:15 p.m. with presentations by Pekka Korvenmaa, the University of Art and Design Helsinki, on public and private design; and Sandy Isenstadt and Alan Plattus from Yale on Saarinen and the “function of style” and the architect as campus planner, respectively. Pelkonen will be the moderator and Barry Bergdoll of Columbia University, the responder. The presentations will be followed by a panel discussion of “collaborations.” The panel includes celebrated architects Cesar Pelli, Kevin Roche, Harold Roth and Robert Venturi. The discussion will be moderated by Robert A.M. Stern, dean of Yale School of Architecture.

In the afternoon session, beginning at 1:45 p.m., Tuomi, Pelkonen and Reinhold Martin of Columbia University will consider themes from “Saarinen, Monumentalism and Modern Architecture” and the “Search for Form” to the question “What is a material?” Isenstadt is the moderator and Detlef Mertins, University of Pennsylvania, will give the response. The final discussion of the symposium will be on Saarinen’s legacy. Kurt Forster, Bauhaus–Universität Weimar, will be the moderator; Keith Krumwiede and Greg Lynn of Yale and Sarah Whiting, Harvard, are the panelists.

A reception will take place in the evening at Sterling Library, where the Ingalls exhibition is on display. Michael Rey, a graduate student at YSA and a curator of the exhibition, will give a gallery talk.

The symposium is part of an Eero Saarinen exhibition and research project organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, the National Building Museum, the Yale School of Architecture and the Museum of Finnish Architecture.

Yale School of Architecture is a “registered provider” with The American Institute of Architects Continuing Education Systems. Credit earned by AIA members attending the symposium will be reported to CES records. Non–AIA members can earn certificates of completion upon request.

The symposium is supported in part by Corbin Russwin Architectural Hardware, Sargent Manufacturing Company, the Edward J. and Dorothy Clark Kempf Memorial Fund, the Nitkin Family Dean’s Discretionary Fund, the Robert A.M. Stern Fund, the Paul Rudolph Lectureship Fund and by a research grant from the Getty Foundation.

The symposium is free and open to the public, but prior reservations, made before March 18, are required. For more information or to make reservations, contact Jennifer Castellon at 203–432–2889 or by e–mail at jennifer.castellon@yale.edu.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345