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December 6, 2010 Eero Saarinen

Saarinen’s Soaring Legacy of Dulles Airport

Dulles International Airport Terminal, Chantilly, Virginia, circa 1963. © Balthazar Korab Ltd.

I wanted to make sure people saw this weekend’s column by architect Roger K. Lewis, professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland and long-time Washington Post architecture columnist. Lewis’ column reflects on the Finish Embassy’s recent exhibit highlighting Eero Saarinen’s work in the D.C. area and a recent flight Lewis took from the Saarinen-designed Dulles airport. (The brochure for the exhibit was designed as individual “tickets” in the type of paper holder that passengers used to get at airports before the advent of e-tickets.)

“Perhaps Saarinen’s most well-known project, the iconic Dulles terminal is recognized and admired by millions, even people who have never visited it,” Lewis writes. “Architects continually cite it as one of America’s greatest works of modern architecture. Designed as a jet-age threshold and gateway, the terminal is a kind of super-scaled pavilion, a place of transition between movement on land and movement through the air.

“Two characteristics, in particular, make Dulles unique. It has proved functionally durable because of the terminal’s flexibility and adaptability to changing needs. Owing to the clarity of its dynamic, metaphoric geometry, its aesthetic quality also has endured, transcending shifting architectural trends.”

You can read the full column here.

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  1. Rob — January 10, 2011 @ 9:44 am         Reply

    Thanks for pointing out this article, it’s really interesting! One of the great things about Dulles Airport is that it hasn’t been ruined by “updates” or clumsy remodeling. Saarinen’s flexible design that planned for expansion made it easy to maintain the integrity of the design. I think it’s the best-designed airport in the country.

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