Saarinen, Eero

Charles Medbury Hall and Oreon E. Scott Memorial Chapel

Added by , last update: October 14, 2011, 8:02 pm

Charles Medbury Hall and Oreon E. Scott Memorial Chapel
Location
2501 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States
46° 56' 3.3396" N, 69° 22' 51.1032" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Education (EDC)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

In 1945, Drake University President Henry Dodd Harmon hired the firm Saarinen, Swanson and Saarinen to complete a campus master plan that eventually include, among other buildings, three new dormitories, two new science buildings and a dining hall. The firm worked on construction of the buildings from 1947 to 1955. The final two buildings constructed were Charles Medbury Hall and Oreon E. Scott Memorial Chapel. Medbury Hall was used to house classrooms, faculty offices and a library for the Drake University Divinity School. The adjoining Scott Chapel was used in conjunction with the purpose of the Divinity School, but also was intended to serve the religious needs for the entire student body.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Commissioned: 1946 / Construction: April 1954 / Completion: February 1955
Architectural and other Designer(s): Eero Saarinen, Architect
Others associated with Building/Site: Paul S. Calkins, Structural Engineer; Hyde and Bobbio, Mechanical Engineers; Fane F. Vawter and Co., General Contractor
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): Medbury Hall - 1997, curtain wall replacement on both north and south sides of the building. While the original curtain wall was constructed with insulated porcelain metal panels, the replacement now matches the bronzed mullion curtain wall replacement of Saarinen’s Fitch Hall of Pharmacy, just north of Medbury Hall. During the curtain wall replacement, the two wooden entrance doors were also replaced with aluminum and glass doors. Scott Chapel underwent a restoration in 2006 to repair the structural integrity of the building and replace finishes both exterior and interior that had been damaged or removed during the buildings 50-year history. The restoration project received both an Excellence in Historic Preservation Award from the city of Des Moines, as well as the American Institute of Architects Iowa Chapter Honor Award for Restoration in 2007. “Exquisite restoration of a truly great piece of modern architecture. Lovingly done”(1).
Current Use: "Because the Divinity School closed in 1968, Medbury Hall now houses the religion and philosophy department and the headquarters of the Honors Program” (2). While the Disciples of Christ founded Drake University in 1881, the University quickly separated from the church. Scott Chapel, however, retains its same use as a quiet contemplative space for students of all faiths.
Current Condition: Recent curtain wall replacement on the north and south facades of Medbury Hall and 2006 restoration of Oreon E. Scott Memorial Chapel have left these two buildings in remarkable condition to date.
General Description:

Charles Medbury Hall is a two-story rectangular building with a reinforced concrete frame. The main entrance is on the south side of the building, with another small entry door on the second floor of the west side, accessed by a floating stair above the retaining wall, which helps separate the space of Medbury Hall and Scott Chapel with the surrounding buildings on campus. East and west facades are covered in red brick, while north and south facades are curtain walls. The main entry is off center, making the building asymmetrical both inside and out.
Scott Chapel has one entrance, directly across the entrance to Medbury Hall. The two entrances are joined by a slate walkway with a metal canopy above. Scott Chapel compliments Medbury Hall, as it is a perfectly symmetrical, circular building. The exterior is finished in red brick pattern, while the interior walls are furnishings are oak. A central skylight brings the only light into the space and lights up the altar below, a simple circular marble slab.

Construction Period:
Original Physical Context:

Medbury Hall and Scott Chapel sit approximately in the center of campus, signifying the role that religion played in the lives of students in the early 1950s. hile Medbury Hall’s use has changed to become the home to other academic programs, the layout of the two buildings serve to anchor the university’s commitment to provide a well rounded education both academically and spiritually.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

The Saarinen firm chose red brick exteriors for all of the buildings built under their master plan. This choice gives these modern structures a similar color to the existing buildings on campus, making them all feel integrated, but each building with their own unique style, especially with regard to the landscape. The choice of materials for Medbury Hall and Scott Chapel have held up well given the intense winters of the Midwest and mostly maintenance is required for their continued success on campus.

Social:

Since the closure of the Divinity School in 1968, the university has sought to establish itself in a more secularized educational setting. The slight change in uses for both buildings reflects this drive. While Medbury Hall still houses the religion department, it also houses the philosophy and Honors departments, making it a space for research and contemplation of many disciplines, not simply a religious institution with a specific affiliation. In much the same way, Scott Chapel is now a space for students of all faiths to gather and use the space to suit their needs. Scott Chapel epitomizes Saarinen’s vision for all of the buildings in his master plan. Each unifies the simplicity of space with industrial qualities.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
A growing and more diverse student body reflects the current use of both buildings, particularly Scott Chapel. Although the crosses remain on the top of the high back chairs inside the chapel, an indication of the school’s early affiliation with a religious institution, the chapel has always reflected the changing ideas of what a worship space should look like, deviating from a traditional cruciform or basilica layout to a space that is suited towards a large variety of functions. Those who enter are able to interpret the use of the space as they see fit.
Historical:

The 1945 Drake University campus plan originally intended the design of classical buildings much like the University of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson. Drake’s Board of Trustees, however, challenged this notion of what a University should look like. The University wanted to appear established, but trustees believed that with the vision a modern architect, the same effect could be achieved, and it would also show that the university was looking towards the future.

General Assessment:
Saarinen’s campus plan intended to unify the new additions of university buildings by creating modern buildings with an industrial aesthetic. It sought both simplicity and harmony with the natural surroundings. Both Medbury Hall and Scott Chapel reflect these notions of simplicity.
Documentation
Text references:

(1)Strassburg, Steve. "Iowa's Ten Best Buildings." Iowa Architect. 217 (1996): 14-17.
(2)Building a Modern Campus. http://www.buildingamoderncampus.com/medbury.html.

Stankard, Mark. "Circle in the Circle in the Square: Orean E. Scott Chapel at Charles Medbury Hall, Drake University, Eero Saarinen & Associates." Iowa Architect. 215 (1996): 24-27.
"Theological School and Chapel, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa." Progressive Architecture. 38. (1957): 148-152.
"Dormitories and Dining Hall, Des Moines, Iowa." Progressive Architecture. 36 (1955): 96-105.
Schroeder, Tim. "2007 State and Region Design Awards." Iowa Architect. 262 (2007): 7.
"Women's Dining Hall and Dormitories, Drake University." Architectural Record. (1955): 11.
Strassburg, Steve. "Iowa's Ten Best Buildings." Iowa Architect. 217 (1996): 14-17.
"A University Campus Plan Under Way for Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa: Saarinen, Swanson and Saarinen, Architects." Architectural Record. 102 (1947): 70-87.
"Science and Pharmacy Buildings for Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa." Progressive Architecture. 31 (1950): 65-89.
Ritchey, Charles. Drake University through 75 Years, 1881 – 1956. Des Moines: Drake University, 1956.
Roman, Antonio. Eero Saarinen: An Architecture of Multiplicity. New York: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Reba Ashby / March 3, 2010
Additional Images
Charles Medbury Hall and Oreon E. Scott Memorial Chapel

Washington Dulles International Airport Main Terminal

Added by KHusband, last update: October 14, 2011, 10:34 pm

Washington Dulles International Airport Main Terminal
Exterior view, source: XYZ+T, retrieved from Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/xyzt/2170965142, date: February 15, 2006
Location
1 Saarinen Circle
Dulles, VA 20166
United States
38° 57' 47.9448" N, 77° 27' 31.4064" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Transport/Communications (TRC)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

In the middle of the twentieth century, plans for Washington Dulles International Airport grew out of the need for another airport in the Washington D.C. region as the Washington National Airport (Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport) was already outgrowing demand. The second Washington Airport Act of 1950 was passed by Congress to provide for the construction of a new airport. A site was chosen 26 miles from Washington D.C., and the construction of Dulles Airport began on September 2, 1958.

Dates: Commission / Completion:1958-1962.
Architectural and other Designer(s): Eero Saarinen and Associates of Hamden, Connecticut were chosen as the architect for the Main Terminal building. Saarinen had previously completed the Trans World Airlines Flight Center at J.F.K. International Airport from 1956-62. The firm of Ammann and Whitney of New York was selected as engineers for the airport.
Others associated with Building/Site: The airport consultant was Charles Landrum, and the mechanical engineering was done by Burns and McDonnell Engineering Company. The landscape architect of the airport was Dan Kiley. The Chrysler Corporation desined the mobile lounges.
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): Construction began on September 2, 1958 and the building was completed by 1962. There have been many significant alterations to the airport since its construction. In 1980 a fifty foot corridor designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) was added to the length of the Main Terminal. In 1991 The International Arrivals Building was completed 300’ west of the Main Terminal designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). In 1996 the expansion of the Main Terminal from 600’ to 1,240’ was completed and designed by SOM. The expansion reflected the original design of Saarinen, who planned for an expansion to accommodate the growth of the facility. The International Arrivals building was connected to the Main Terminal due to the expansion on the west elevation. In 2005, the interior of the Main Terminal was renovated and ticket counters and baggage handling facilities were updated. An additional baggage basement was constructed under the ground level. Other additions to the overall complex include the construction of temporary Concourses C and D in 1985 and Concourses A and B in 1998-99 which were linked to the main terminal through the mobile lounges and an underground walkway.
Current Use: Washington Dulles International Airport is used for both domestic and international air travel.
Current Condition: The Main Terminal is in good condition.
General Description:

The Main Terminal and airport complex sits on 11,803 acres in Dulles, Virginia, and the Main Terminal and complex use approximately 5,000 acres. The Main Terminal is reached by an access road leading to a three-leveled oval roadway that runs parallel to the north elevation. The 1,240’ long building is composed of concrete columns 40’ apart along the north and south elevations supporting an upward curving concrete panel roof held together by catenary cables. The columns punctuate the roof and curve over the top of the structure on the north and south elevations. The spaces between column and roof are filled with glass panels curved into the building. The form of the building was designed by Saarinen to be centered between earth and sky, and as Saarinen stated to “both rise from the plan and hover over it.” The interior space of the main level is one large, open area designed by Saarinen to expedite flow of passengers from the roadway to the waiting planes and to connect the interior of the terminal to the exterior. The ground floor contains baggage circulation, and an additional basement also serves this function. A concrete control tower is situated south of the Main Terminal. Additional later concourses were added to the complex and run parallel to the Main Terminal along the south elevation and are linked to the Main Terminal by mobile lounges and an underground walkway.

Construction Period:

The building was constructed with reinforced concrete columns 40’ apart supporting an upward curving concrete panel roof of approximately 1792 precast concrete panels held together by catenary cables, which allowed for the uninterrupted interior space. Glass panels framed by metal surrounds create large open areas between the columns that slightly curve in towards the interior.

Original Physical Context:

When the need for Dulles Airport arose in the mid twentieth century, the entire functionality of how an airport works and operates was studied by Eero Saarinen to design an efficient new airport specifically geared for jet airplanes. Saarinen focused on this aspect of the structure when planning the flow of passengers from the drop off outside of the Main Terminal, through the building, and onto the waiting airplanes. A significant feature of Saarinen’s design was the mobile lounge concept. The mobile lounges allowed for the Main Terminal to be a single independent mass without what Saarinen called extending structural “fingers.” The mobile lounges were a modernistic design to bring passengers directly to the plane and to shorten the walking distance. Saarinen also planned for the growth of the Main Terminal and the airport complex and incorporated future extensions into his design in order to keep pace with the expanding airport industry. The Main Terminal was a modern building signifying modern travel by the jet airplane.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

When planning and designing Washington Dulles International Airport, Eero Saarinen tested the functionality of other airport buildings and incorporated his findings into the design of the terminal. Teams were sent out to record information about existing airports such as walking distance, interchange problems, schedules, weather, and baggage handling to incorporate all aspects of air travel into his design. The design of the roof, with concrete panels supported by catenary cables, stands out as an important technical feature of the building and allows for an uninterrupted interior space to streamline the flow of passengers from the unloading area up to the mobile lounges and onto the plane. Saarinen was also taking into consideration the jet planes in his design, with the mobile lounge concept reducing reduced airport noise near the terminal.

Social:

Eero Saarinen’s design of Dulles Airport was centered on how architecture could facilitate the travel experience of the passenger in the new age of jet travel. His modernistic creation reflected the connection of ground to sky, and Saarinen was also attempting to express “the movement and excitement of modern travel by air.” Saarinen was making a statement against static Federal architecture by incorporating the concept of movement into his design. Saarinen also extended the role of the architect by not only creating a functional and stylistic design for the Main Terminal but by providing a master plan which would take into consideration future expansion of the entire complex.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The architectural design of the Main Terminal subtly reflects flight and movement. The airport has been touted as a landmark of modern architecture due to its simplistic means of fulfilling the complex needs of an airport. Saarinen took an intricate problem and made it simple, and his design for the Main Terminal stands out as a prominent building in the Modern Movement.
Historical:

In 1958 Eero Saarninen and Associates were chosen as the architects for a new airport to be built twenty six miles west of Washington D.C. Construction began that year, and Dulles International officially opened and was formally dedicated by President John F. Kennedy on November 17, 1962. Dulles Airport received praise after its completion for its architecture and design, and in 1966 the Dulles International Airport Terminal Building received the Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects for its “vigorous, free and graceful movement which we associate with flight, while avoiding literal and obvious analogy.” In 1978 the airport was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places before it reached fifty years of age because of its architectural importance. It has been heavily praised from the beginning as a monument to modern travel. Major additions to the airport began in the 1980s with the addition of a 50’ wide skylighted corridor added to the south elevation of the Main Terminal. In 1984, when the airport was renamed Washington Dulles International Airport, three proposals were considered to address airport efficiency problems. In 1985 two temporary structures, Concourses C and D were constructed away from the Main Terminal which expanded the complex. An International Arrivals building was completed in 1991 300’ from the terminal, but by 1996, the International Arrivals building became part of the Main Terminal when SOM’s expansion was completed and effectively joined the two buildings. Concourses A and B were added in 1999 further expanding the entire airport complex. D2, a Dulles Development Program, was approved in 2000 to improve the efficiency and growth of the airport, which included a renovation of the interior of the Main Terminal in 2005 to maximize public space within and to update the technologies of the building.

General Assessment:
Documentation
Text references:

“A.I.A Selects Annual Honor Awards.” Architectural Record, July 1966, 41.
“Airport Development Planning.” Progressive Architecture, November 1961, 158-163.
“Dulles Airport.” Progressive Architecture, August 1963, 86-101.
“Dulles Airport Expansion.” Architecture, November 1993, 40-41.
“Dulles International Airport.” Architectural Record, July 1963, 101-110.
Freeman, Allen. “SOM’s Addition to Dulles International Airport Respects Eero Saarinen’s 'Modern Masterpiece.'” Architectural Record, March 1997, 62-67.
“Hammock Type Roof for Dulles Airport.” Architectural Record, November 1961, 198.
“History of Washington Dulles International Airport.” Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. http://www.metwashairports.com/dulles/
Lebovich, William. “Redoing Dulles: Three Proposals.” Progressive Architecture, April 1984, 29-30.
“A New Airport for Jets.” Architectural Record, March 1960, 175-182.

Authoring
Recorder/Date:

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Added by Julia Palmer, last update: August 17, 2012, 1:24 pm

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Location
11 North Fourth Street
St. Louis, MO 63102
United States
38° 37' 29.6436" N, 90° 11' 10.7412" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Monuments (MON)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association was created in 1933 to revitalize the riverfront of St. Louis with a monument honoring both Thomas Jefferson and the City as "a gateway to western expansion." According to the official language of the National Park Service, "The Gateway Arch reflects St. Louis’ role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century. The park is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson’s role in opening the West, to the pioneers who helped shape its history, and to Dred Scott who sued for his freedom in the Old Courthouse." The riverfront contained over fifty blocks of historic cast iron buildings, dating from the 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s. The local government believed these buildings reflected the decline of the city, and sold the property to the National Park Service to demolish and make space for the new memorial. Three historic buildings, the Old Courthouse, Old Saint Louis Cathedral and Manuel Lisa, were saved and are now included in the site of the Jefferson Expansion Memorial. In 1934 Congress formed the US Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission to work with the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association, and in 1935 the Historic Sites and Bridges Act was passed. The National Park Service developed the Historic Saint Louis site shortly thereafter. The site was an urban development of major proportion. The government allocated $6.7 million in federal funds under the Emergency Relief Act, which was matched by $2.25 million in city funds. As costs rose, this ratio remained. The citizens of St. Louis approved a $7.5 million bond. The National Park put demolition of the site on hold in 1936 to focus on the War efforts. The Jefferson Memorial Competition finally occurred in 1948, and it was open to both architects and amateurs. The committee specifically did not want a living memorial, such as an airport. The brief called for "a striking element, not only to be seen from a distance in the landscape but also as a notable structure to be remembered and commented on as one of the conspicuous monuments of the country." The competition had 172 entrants, including Eliel Saarinen, Charles Eames, Walter Gropius, Louis I. Kahn, Ralph Rapson, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Harry & John Weese, Minoru Yamasaki, Edward Durell Stone, and Isamu Noguchi. A mistake was made when the telegram announcing the winner was sent to Eero's father, Eliel Saarinen. A few days later the error was corrected; Eero Saarinen was identified as the true winner and more celebratory champagne was opened. Eero Saarinen’s winning proposal was noted for its beautiful presentation, including numerous beaux-arts watercolors and sculpted models. Due to the political state of the country, specifically the Korean War and its budgetary aftermath, project financing was delayed for 14 years. In 1962, a year after Eero Saarinen died, funding finally became available and construction of the arch began. The only major design alteration from the original was the extension of the 590 foot arch to 630 feet, making it the tallest monument in the US. The arch was completed on October 28, 1965 and the opening ceremony took place in 1966. Two trams on tracks tracing the inside of the triangular legs of the arch carry passengers up and over the monument for a panoramic view of St. Louis. The north tram opened to the public in 1967, followed by the south tram in 1968. The formal dedication of the Arch by Vice-President Hubert Humphrey and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall took place on May 25, 1968, after the landscaping was complete. Paving of walkways and overlooks and construction of the grand staircase from the Arch down to Wharf Street on the Mississippi River was completed by 1976, the same year that the Museum of Westward Expansion opened. The total cost of the project, including the $24 million from the 1930s period, was approximately $40 million.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Eero Saarinen won the project commission in 1948. Following years of financial and political delays, construction finally began in 1962. The last section of the arch was placed in October 1965 and the opening dedication ceremony occurred in 1966. The official dedication of the entire Jefferson National Expansion Memorial took place in 1968, when the landscaping was completed.
Architectural and other Designer(s): The original team included architect Lily Swann Saarinen(Eero Saarinen's wife), illustrator J. Henderson Barr, designer Alexander Girard, landscape architect Dan Kiley, engineer Severud-Elstad Kreuger.
Others associated with Building/Site: Luther Ely Smith, a prominent St. Louis lawyer, formed the committee to create the monument to Thomas Jefferson and westward expansion in 1933. MacDonald Construction Company of St. Louis was awarded the contract for constructing the Arch and shell of the subterranean visitor center in 1962. Daniel Urban Kiley(1912-2004) designed the park site under the arch. Kiley was a noted American landscape architect in the modernist style, with particular interest in the geometry of spaces.
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): Many slight design alterations occurred due to the extended period between Saarinen's original winning proposal (1948) and start of construction (1962). Colleagues maintain that Saarinen never stopped working on the arch. The most significant alteration, prior to construction, was the arch's height extension from 590 ft to 630ft. Since its construction, alterations to both the site and the Arch itself have been minor. The grand double staircase has been replaced with full width stairs similar to those in other Saarinen designs. Carpeting was laid in the observation room to decrease noise levels. Minimal alterations were done to the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system at the north end of the Arch. The ramps at the north and south entrances are scheduled for replacement with a less slippery stone in the near future as a public safety measure.
Current Use: Millions of visitors annually travel to the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Many tourists make the journey in the tram to the top. The Arch has come to represent the spirit of the City of St. Louis, the Gateway to the West.Millions of visitors annually travel to the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Many tourists make the journey in the tram to the top. Each train is made up of eight capsule-type cars that are round in cross-section. The ride takes 10 minutes for the round trip and operates at the rate of 340 feet per min. Each car seats five people and carries them up to the small observation room at the top of the Arch. The cars are equipped with leveling devices that adjust the angle of the capsule as it climbs up the leg of the arch. The observation room (7'x65') has rectangular windows that afford long distance views to the east and west--the Illinois and Missouri sides. The windows are cut in at an angle so that the viewer can look 630 feet directly below him to the base of the Arch. The Arch has come to represent the spirit of the City of St. Louis, the Gateway to the West.
Current Condition: A pool at the foot of the arch and entrance to the Museum of Westward Expansion was added to the landscape in recent years. Temporary jersey barriers on the northern perimeter of the Arch grounds have been replaced with heavy concrete bollards. A severe windstorm in 2006, damaged 204 of the 100 trees on the property. Many trees were completely destroyed and at least 100 had to be replaced. The monoculture of Rosehill Ash trees has resulted in the potential threat of infestation by emerald ash borer bugs. Efforts to quarantine the insects have failed. Future projects include a lid or connector between the Arch grounds and the Old Courthouse, and extensive development of the St. Louis Riverfront. A study of corrosion on the metal surfaces of the Arch was also conducted. Vandals have scratched graffiti (names, obscenities, dates, towns) in the lowest stainless steel panels. Methods of treatment for returning the surface to the original polished condition are under study. There have been minor changes in interior partitions in the administrative office spaces.
General Description:

The tallest monument in the U.S. at 630 feet in height, the stainless steel St. Louis Arch dominates the landscape of its surroundings. The design is based on an inverted, weighted catenary curve. The catenary is not geometrically correct, as Saarinen was more interested in its sculptural, artistic quality than its mathematical equations. The design is unique in architecture and its structural system was an unprecedented use of technology.

Construction Period:

The Arch was built in triangular sections and has larger sections at the base and progressively smaller sections at the apex. Each section is a double-walled equilateral triangle of carbon steel on the interior and stainless steel on the exterior held together by welded high strength steel rods. The small spaces between the double walls of the triangular sections are filled with concrete up to the 300-foot level. In turn, each triangular section is welded to the one above it. Thus the structural framework frame is the steel and concrete skin itself.

Original Physical Context:

The Jefferson National Expansion Museum is comprised of the Gateway Arch, Museum of Westward Expansion and The Old Courthouse. The site is located on the bank of the Mississippi River, between Washington and Poplar Streets, in St. Louis, Missouri.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

The complex engineering design and construction of the Arch is completely hidden from view. The innovative construction technique used for the Arch included the use of 100-ton creeper cranes mounted on steel tracks on each leg of the Arch. The cranes lifted and placed each of the triangular steel sections until the final section was put in place, topping off the arch. The cranes then went back down each of the respective legs polishing the finished surface, while the tracks were removed simultaneously. The legs have double walls of steel 3 feet apart at ground level and 7-3/4" above the 400-foot level. Up to the 300-foot mark the space between the walls is filled with reinforced concrete. Beyond that point steel stiffeners are used. The dimension of the Arch at the base is 54'(16.46m), while the top measures 17'. (5.18m). The exterior of the Arch is comprised of 142 sections of 1/4” (6.3mm) thick plates of stainless steel #3, Finish Type 304. The deflection of the Arch is 18" in 150 MPH wind (0.46 m in 240 km/h wind). The total weight of the steel is 5,199 tons (4,644 metric tons). The total concrete weight is 38,107 Tons (34,570 metric tons). At the apex of the Arch is an enclosed observation platform measuring 7' 2" x 65' x 6' 9" high (2.18m x 19.8m x 2.06m), with a capacity of 140 persons. The hinged and locked windows are constructed of 3/4" (19mm) plate glass and are approximately 7" x 27" (180 mm x 690 mm). 1,076 steps with 105 landings comprise the interior emergency stairs. Two elevators are also inside the arch for emergency and maintenance use.

Social:

The Gateway Arch was part of a larger urban renewal plan for St. Louis. The city, state and federal government worked together to create a successful, modern image for St. Louis through their joint funding of the project. The architectural competition requirement that the monument be a non-functioning, aesthetically noteworthy structure projected the image that the city was offering its citizens and visitors something beyond just another building. The millions of visitors that visit the Arch today continue to support the St. Louis economy. In 2007, Senator John Danforth proposed a development plan to draw more new business to the riverfront area by developing property near the Arch. The development is proposed take place on land currently owned by the US and managed by the National Park Service; the public reaction is not favorable.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The Gateway Arch is a massive yet graceful stainless steel structure that towers 630 feet above the surrounding landscape. It is shaped in an inverted catenary curve, with each leg an equilateral triangle. Its sides are 54 feet long at ground level, tapering to 17 feet at the top. The Arch has no real structural skeleton. Its inner and outer steel skins, joined to form a composite structure, give it its strength and permanence. Curvilinear concrete staircases provide access to the Arch grounds from the riverfront at the north and south ends. The 80-acre grounds are landscaped with ponds, trees, and walkways that again reflect the gentle curve of the Arch. Similar curves are repeated in the tunnel entrances for the railroad tracks that cut through the property. To the west of the Arch is the historic Old Courthouse, whose dome lines up in an east-west axis with the Arch. Entrance ramps at the north and south bases of the Arch lead down into the visitor center and Museum of Westward Expansion, finished in 1976. Inside, a large pool is centered at the core directly below the apex of the Arch. Most of the square footage below ground is taken up by the museum. Some area is used for administrative offices and for mechanical systems.
Historical:

The Gateway Arch received considerable press when it opened in its 1965 and 1968 dedication ceremonies. Particularly in the wake of Saarinen's death in 1961, this project was recognized as his first important, commissioned design. It was recognized for its modern use of new technologies and its subtle design. The American Institute of Architects awarded the building its 25 Year Award in 1990. Today the Arch is recognized as a major contribution to modernity.

General Assessment:
The Gateway Arch is an important structure of modernist American architecture. The Arch was the first major design by renowned architect Eero Saarinen. Its highly complex and subtle design, and its structural system and use of materials was progressive at the time of its construction, and remains remarkable and relevant today. The Gateway Arch is the largest monument in the United States and has become the unofficial symbol for the city of St. Louis, Missouri, where it continues to draw millions of annual visitors.
Documentation
Text references:

MERKEL, Jayne, Eero Saarinen, New York; Phaidon Press; 2005; ISBN 071484277X.
HARRISON, Laura, Architecture in the Parks A National Historic Landmark Theme Study,US; Department of the Interior;1986.
National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior, Jefferson National Expansion Museum website. .

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Julia Hunter Palmer / March 2008
Additional Images
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

CBS Building

Added by admin, last update: July 27, 2012, 2:09 pm

Location
51 W. 52nd Stree
New York, NY 10019
United States
40° 45' 40.158" N, 73° 58' 44.0688" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Commercial (COM)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

By the late 1950s, the CBS Company had diversified and grown enormously. Its founder and CEO, William S. Paley, decided that the company’s rented space on Madison Avenue was neither adequate to the network’s need nor helpful to its image. Paley determined to build new company headquarters that could compete in architectural prestige with NBC’s and that it would have to be of the highest aesthetic quality. He bought the site on Sixth Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd Streets, an area he characterized as ‘emerging as the newest important business area in midtown.’ Paley hired Saarinen for he believed him to be one of the country’s outstanding architects, and also a creative artist in the deepest sense.

Dates: Commission / Completion:1961-1964
Architectural and other Designer(s): Eero Saarinen & Associates names of other designers: Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo, Joseph Lacy after Saarinen’s death Carson, Lundin & Shaw, interior architects Florence Knoll Bassett, Knoll Planning Unit, interiors Lou Dorfsman, CBS director of design Warren Platner, restaurant designer
Others associated with Building/Site: names of consulting engineers: Paul Weidlinger, structural; Consentini Associates, mechanical names of contractors: George A. Fuller Co.
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s):
Current Use: Commercial ground floor and corporate offices in the rest of the building. Since CBS is in the process of being re-structured after the recent merger with Viacom, the office space is partially occupied
Current Condition: Very Good
General Description:

The tower of CBS headquarters is a freestanding 38-story concrete tower sheathed in dark granite and glass. The 800,000 square feet building has a 135-foot by 160-foot footprint, and stands in a sunken plaza that occupies the entire western end of the block bounded by Fifth and Sixth Avenues and West 52nd and 53rd Streets on a site that is 200’-10” x 216’-10”. It rises 490 feet without setbacks, occupies almost 60 percent of the area of the plaza, and it is set back 25 feet from the building line.

For his scheme Saarinen wanted to use reinforced concrete and face it with stone, which turned out to be very economical compared to the prevalent practice of steel frame construction typically used in high-rise office buildings. In fact, the CBS Building became New York's first postwar reinforced concrete skyscraper and one of the first to use an exterior bearing wall at a time when the glass curtain wall of the International Style was in vogue.

The plaza is paved in a gray granite slightly lighter than the one used in the building's piers. It is sunken below street level by approximately two feet forming a retaining wall with parapets and vertical slits on the inside faces. The design of the exterior walls of the tower called for triangular, weight-bearing, poured concrete piers, which along with the interior service and elevator core support the building. The use of piers is what gives the building its palpable verticality and its three-dimensionality; this again was a reaction to the ubiquitous curtain wall. The piers are conceived as projecting triangular "V"s with glass recessed behind them. By sheathing the concrete with Canadian black granite and filling the bays with gray-tinted vision glass, Saarinen created the illusion of a massive slab of dark granite which earned the building its nickname, "Black Rock". At each of the building four corners the "V"s meet to form double-width piers, creating the effect of chamfered corners.

The piers rise uninterrupted from the ground all the way to the top, and act as both bearing walls and conduits for services. "From the second-floor level they are hollow for ducts and sheared flat in the interior. At the ground floor, they are solid and fully diamond-shaped inside and out and almost as impressive as Greek columns." The service core of the building is designed to permit circulation within its walls saving the space of a public corridor around the core. It is joined by 35- foot long clear spans to cast-in-place peripheral columns. These do not intrude to support the floor slabs, but are anchored together with the columns using steel rods running through both. The top floor and the second floor of the building are mechanical floors, which are articulated on the exterior by the use of closely spaced, dark anodized vertical grilles on the bays instead of glass. The five foot widths of piers and window bays became the module of the whole design of the building. This would enable the company to standardize executive levels by size: a presidential suite would be 20' x 20', a vice-president's office 15' x 15', and a manager's 10' x 10'.

The design for the lobby of the building shows a peculiar twist in relation to the overall sober and subdued appearance of the exterior. The dark granite is present still in the structural columns and also on the flooring of the lobby. But the core containing the elevator banks is clad in white travertine; walls, floors, overhead lighting panels, and even the ashtrays of white travertine accomplish a sharp contrast with the dark surroundings. The western portion of the lobby was originally leased to a branch of the Bank of New York. It currently houses offices for Cushman Wakefield Investments. The eastern portion of the lobby housed the Ground Floor Restaurant, which was meant to rival Seagram Building's The Four Seasons. Today it houses The China Grill.

Saarinen proposed many schemes for the CBS tower, but the executed design was the one to which he always returned. In a 1961 article published in Progressive Architecture, his partner John Dinkerloo said the design for CBS embodied the late architect's idea of what an office tower should be. He added that his former partner believed he was going back to the tradition of Sullivan in Chicago while at the same time taking a step forward in the design of tall buildings. For most of its lifetime, Saarinen's CBS tower has been qualified as somber and austere, and this is in large part due to the darkling quality of the granite. Both the architect and the president of CBS wanted a building that would differ from the glass and steel skyscrapers of the International Style, one with identity and individualism. Saarinen wanted it to be subtle and refined, and believed a dark building was more quiet, dignified and appropriate to the site. His widow suggested he was thinking of executives in their dark gray suits when choosing the dark granite for the building. Yet Dinkerloo believed that the dark stone reflected the strength Saarinen was looking for better than glass.

Critical reaction to the CBS Building was favorable from most of the architectural community. The dark, somber dignity of the tower was however, not welcomed by the general public according to Ada Louise Huxtable; it seemed funereal compared to the "bright and shiny" look of curtain wall buildings. Huxtable cited this misconception as a fault of the public eye, one she did not agree with. She did, however, faulted the architects for failing to carry the distinct design of the building's exterior inside. She blamed this on the decision, after Saarinen's death, to divide the design of interior and exterior among two firms. As a result the inside of CBS "is a solid gold corporate cliché; a lavish cocoon, complete to standardized concealed wastebaskets and accredited and almost as equally standardized abstract art...the building has been turned into the anonymous, vacuum-packed commercial shell it was never meant to be."2

The sunken plaza was perceived more as a protective border for the building lacking most public amenities such as fountains, pools, or trees. The plaza's surrounding parapet is too high to provide resting places for pedestrians; it is uninviting and seems to declare an apartness from the rest of the street. Moreover, as critic Bethami Probst declared in a 1965 article, by settling itself so firmly on the sunken plaza, the CBS Building sacrifices its ability to soar as a skyscraper should. According to critic Paul Goldberger, Saarinen's building stands "maddeningly aloof" from its surrounding because of the sunken plaza scheme. In fact, he sees it as a continuation of a trend started in the 1950s when corporate glass towers rejected any connection to, or acknowledgment of, the context on which they stood, such as Lever House and Seagram. By standing back from the sidewalk, by sinking below the street level and for lacking entrances on Sixth Avenue, the building's disconnection is emphasized. At once it could be understood that Saarinen achieved the conceptual disassociation from the International Style, but also the physical disassociation as well in light of the prevailing architectural landscape of Sixth Avenue.

Nevertheless, the building's distinction lies in its austere color and its massing, which sets it apart from its repetitive neighbors. It also lies in its articulated verticality done through structure. And finally it lies in the fact that it broke away from prevalent building systems and aesthetics.
Notes
1. Ada Louise Huxtable, Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard? (New York: Macmillan, 1970) 101.
2. Huxtable, 101-102.

Construction Period:

Saarinen’s premise was a freestanding tower in a plaza, encouraged by the new 1961 zoning ordinance. He put the CBS Building in a sunken plaza, trying in some measure to respect the street wall of Sixth Avenue, keeping the plaza small and siting the tower a little off-center. The tower occupies approximately 60 percent of the plaza’s area and it is set slightly towards the east. Lacking the restriction of the old zoning, which encouraged progressively set-back towers, Saarinen used continuous reinforced concrete piers in the facades as load-bearing elements supporting the building, emphasizing the tower’s verticality.

Original Physical Context:
Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Saarinen's design for the CBS Building represented a departure from the International Style for not relying on the use of a glass curtain wall and pilotis. The architect restored the function the traditional masonry pier had before the advent of Modern minimalism by bringing it outside again. The architect’s use of triangular, weight-bearing, poured concrete piers(along with an interior service/elevator core) also turned out to be very economical compared to the prevalent practice of steel frame construction typically used in office buildings. The CBS Building became New York’s first postwar reinforced concrete skyscraper and one of the first to use an exterior bearing wall at a time when the glass curtain wall was the norm.

Social:
Cultural & Aesthetic:
The CBS Building epitomizes Saarinen’s idea of the simplest skyscraper in New York; this concrete tower sheathed in dark granite and glass reflects minimal simplicity and a sense of mass and austerity. The combination of Canadian black granite used in the cladding of the masonry piers and the gray-tinted glass in the bays creates the illusion of a massive slab of dark granite, which earned the building its nickname, “Black Rock.” In addition, the uninterrupted ‘V’ shaped piers rising from the ground all the way to the top give the building its palpable verticality and its three dimensionality. The almost complete absence of interruption the façades give the building its austerity. The absence of set backs also gives a monumental feeling to the act of entering the building when approached from W. 52nd and 53rd streets. By leaving the Sixth Avenue façade alone, the design also gives the building the appearance of an absolutely pure slab of granite. What has been described as ‘optical architecture, or a ‘three-dimensional study in architecture’, is Saarinen’s unique and simple design for the CBS Building, which allows the building to change in appearance as one walks around it. When seen directly, the tower’s bays appear open, with relatively narrow piers. However, when viewed from afar and at an angle, the piers eclipse the view of the glass creating the effect of solid mass. The building's distinction lies in its austere color and its massing, which sets it apart from its repetitive neighbors. It also lies in its articulated verticality done through structure. And finally it lies in the fact that it broke away from prevalent building systems and aesthetics.
Historical:

With the CBS Building Saarinen returned to the skyscraper the sense of solidity and mass that had been its principal characteristic before the advent of Modern minimalism. But he did it in a completely Modernist way, by ‘restoring function to the masonry pier’; by using concrete he could take vertical columns on the outside wall and make them do something for a change. Saarinen made the piers thicker and deep so he could set the windows in deep recesses, so that from an angle you would see no glass at all.

The new 1961 zoning ordinance had encouraged tall towers set back in plazas in New York City. Saarinen met with architects and planners who were working out the new zoning proposal to find out if a tower in a plaza could work economically. His argument for the CBS Building served as a demonstration model for the new zoning. He established that the area per floor would have to be nearly 20,000 square feet gross for a profitable structure (in contrast to Seagram's 16,000 square feet on tower floors). The proposed new zoning would still have permitted only 16,000 square feet, but working together with city officials Saarinen came up with a new formula for CBS, which would yield over 20,000 square feet and produce a pleasant plaza for the city. The 1961 New York zoning amendment reflected planners’ and civic organizations’ aim at limiting the height and bulk of buildings. The city granted to the developers a 20 percent density bonus for buildings that created a public plaza on a portion of the lot. If towers were to cover 40 percent of their lots, they were allowed to rise to unlimited heights. According to historians, Saarinen’s meetings with planners and architects to work out the new 1961 zoning proposal and his designs and calculations for the CBS Building, helped shaped the new zoning law. His tower design begat the zoning amendment.

General Assessment:
Documentation
Text references:

Christ-Janer, Albert, with a foreword by Alvar Aalto. Eliel Saarinen. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1948, ill.

Lund, Nils-Ole. "U. S. A. Ambassaden i Oslo." Arkitektur Denmark 3 (1960): 81-91.

Damaz, Paul. "École de Droit de L'Université de Chicago, Etats-Unis." Architecture D'aujourd'hui 96 (1961): 93-94.

Dinkerloo, John. "Saarinen's Sophisticated Skyscraper for CBS" Progressive Architecture 42 (1961): 53-54.

McQuade, Walter."Eero Saarinen, A Complete Architect."Architectural Forum 116 (1962): 103-117.

Probst, Bethami. "CBS: Somber Power on Sixth Avenue." Progressive Architecture 46 (1965): 188-190.

Huxtable, Ada Louise. Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard? preface by Daniel P. Moynihan. New York: Macmillan, 1970.

Roth, Leland M. A Concise History of American Architecture. New York: Harper & Row, 1979, ill.

Goldberger, Paul. The Skyscraper. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982, ill.

Nakamura, Toshiro, ed. Eero Saarinen. Spec. issue of Architecture and Urbanism(April 1984): 1- 240.
`
Saarinen, Eero. Eero Saarinen on his Work, A Selection of Buildings dating from 1947 to 1964, with statements by the architect . edited by Aline B. Saarinen. revised edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988, ill.

Scully, Vincent. American Architecture and Urbanism. New York: H. Holt, 1988, ill.

Stern, Robert A. M., Thomas Mellins, and David Fishman.New York 1960: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial. New York: Monacelli Press, 1995, ill.

Willis, Carol. Form Follows Finance: Skyscrapers and Skylines in New York and Chicago. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1995, ill.

New York City. Landmarks Preservation Commission. The CBS Building, 51 West 52nd Street, aka 51-69 West 52nd Street, 52-66 West 53rd Street, and 1300-1316 Sixth Avenue. By Anthony W. Robins. New York: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1997, ill.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Hansel Hernandez-Navarro / January 22, 2001

Davis S. Ingalls Hockey Rink

Added by admin, last update: August 17, 2012, 1:19 pm

Davis S. Ingalls Hockey Rink
Exterior
Location
73 Sachem Street
New Haven, CT 06511-3518
United States
41° 18' 58.3488" N, 72° 55' 31.1844" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Education (EDC)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:
Dates: Commission / Completion:Commission: 1952(e) / Completion: 1958(e).
Architectural and other Designer(s): Eero Saarinen, architect; Douglas Orr,associate architect; Fred Severud; Severud, Elstad, Krueger Associates, structural engineer
Others associated with Building/Site:
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s):
Current Use: Continued use as hockey and ice skating rink for Yale University.
Current Condition: The building as a whole is in excellent condition.
General Description:

Designed by Eero Saarinen and completed in 1958, the David S. Ingalls Hockey Rink at Yale University is an extraordinary building, a highpoint in expressive modern architecture. Commissioned to design the rink, Saarinen developed a uniquely sculptural building, resembling something like a slithering beast, with 2,900 seats set stadium fashion around a 200' x 85' skating area. Saarinen wanted to bring people into the rink on the southern, campus side and he wanted the movement of the skaters toward the goals to follow that processional route. The curved form also sweeps the observer along and into the action. The great arching spine of the building is visible and dominant inside and out, with the central arch reaching 75 feet in height and cantilevering out 40' on each end to support the roof over the entrances.

Construction Period:

Technically and visually, the most notable feature of the concrete and aluminum building is the sweeping aluminum and wood roof. The roof is hung in a saddle shape from a great central spine and held in place by a grid of cables running parallel and perpendicular to the spine, forming a tensioned web. Wood slats on the roof work well with the concrete formwork, and though some have been replaced, most have survived. Saarinen sheathed the roof with neoprene, a material he first used at the GM Technical Center to hold curtain wall windows in place. On top of the roof, there are three guy wires (bracing cables 1 3/4 in diameter), which help it resist snow loads.

Original Physical Context:
Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Saarinen hired Fred Severud, the noted engineer to work with him on the design of the rink. They developed a roof hung in a saddle shape from a great central spine and held in place by a grid of cables running parallel and perpendicular to the spine, forming a tensioned web. The roof was covered with a membrane of wood slats. Saarinen's design was an innovative approach to these ideas and also one of the most expressve uses of this type of modern technology.

Social:
Cultural & Aesthetic:
Each of Eero Saarinen's projects are unique and particular forms specifially designed for a certian set of circumstances, functionally and humanistically. The Ingalls Rink expressed movement through its scluptural organic form inside and out, setting an innovative and unique standard to approaches in expressive modern architecture.
Historical:

At the time Saarinen was designing the Ingalls Rink, there were many experimental structural systems emerging, particulariy in regards to tension structures and large slung roofs. Saarinen was influenced at the time by Matthew Nowicki's design for the North Carolina State Livestock Judging Pavilion of 1950-1952, Paul Rudolph and Twitchell for a tension structure house in Florida, Bill Irwin in Melbourne who was working on an Olympic Swimming Stadium and a Music Bowl and Luigi Nervi who was building the Sports Palace in Rome. Hugh Stubbins would soon design a cross-cable saddle for the Congress Hall in Berlin (1957).

General Assessment:
The Ingalls Hockey Rink is a remarkable advancement in cable supported membrane roofs, becoming an icon in the experimental use of this technological innovation. Saarinen's use of the hung roof here influenced his design for Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, VA (1962). The development of an innovative design by a well-known architect for a sports complex, set a precedent for future such commissions.
Documentation
Text references:

Fred N. Severud and Raniero G. Corbelletti, Hung Roofs, Progressive Architecture, Mar. 1956, pp. 99-107.
Hockey rink at Yale; Architectural Record v 122 Aug 1957. p. 186-9.
Fred N. Severud, Arches and Catenaries Carry Rink Roof for Yale’s Hockey Rink, New Haven, Engineering News Record, April 10, 1958, p. 30-31, 33.
Fred N. Severud, Cable Suspended Roof for Yale Hockey Rink, Civil Engineering, Sept. 1958, p. 60-63.
Yale's hockey rink; Architectural Record v 124 Oct 1958. p. 151-8.

Recent work of Eero Saarinen, with some statements of Eero Saarinen; Hockey rink, Yale University, fall 1958; E. Saarinen, arch, p. 46-53, Zodiac no 4 1959. p. 30-67, 194.
Donald Vesley, Yale Architecture and the Hockey Rink, Criterion, Jan. 1959, p. 15-18.
Walter McQuade, ‘Exploded landscape’ p. 83-90; (Rudolph, Johnson, Saarinen, Johansen, Kahn); Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, ‘Cantus firmus of Eero Saarinen’, p. 66-7.
Robin Boyd, ‘Under Tension’, Architectural Review, Nov. 1963, p 324-334.
Peter Blake, No Place Like Utopia (W. W. Norton, New York, 1993), p. 206, 259.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Serianne Worden, September 8, 2004
Additional Images
Davis S. Ingalls Hockey Rink
Lobby & Ticket Booth
Davis S. Ingalls Hockey Rink
Hockey Rink
Davis S. Ingalls Hockey Rink
Exterior 2

Crow Island School

Added by admin, last update: July 23, 2014, 5:50 pm

Location
1112 Willow Road
Winnetka, IL 60093
United States
42° 6' 0.288" N, 87° 44' 45.8952" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Education (EDC)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:
Dates: Commission / Completion:Commission unknown, completion 1940(e)
Architectural and other Designer(s): Saarinen & Saarinen; Perkins, Wheeler & Will, architects
Others associated with Building/Site:
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s):
Current Use: School.
Current Condition:
General Description:
Construction Period:
Original Physical Context:
Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:
Social:
Cultural & Aesthetic:
Historical:
General Assessment:
Recognizing that educational objectives and methods can generate architectural form, the architects here were among the first to carefully analyze the spacial and practical needs of children and teachers. The resulting approach, characterized by flexible classrooms with separate work areas, individual adjacent outdoor yards, natural light, practical materials and a child-sized scale revolutionized elementary school design.
Documentation
Text references:
Authoring
Recorder/Date: DOCOMOMO US Register committee, July 1999

TWA Terminal

Added by Lindsey Schweinberg, last update: August 17, 2012, 12:50 pm

TWA Terminal
Location
John F. Kennedy International Airport
Queens, NY 11430
United States
40° 38' 45.0168" N, 73° 46' 39.5652" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Transport/Communications (TRC)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:
Dates: Commission / Completion:design period(s): 1956-1959, design presented to public in 1957, start of site work: 1959, completion/inauguration: 1962
Architectural and other Designer(s): Architect(s): Eero Saarinen & Associates (Eero Saarinen and Kevin Roche) Other designer(s): Ralph Yeakel, resident architect Consulting engineer(s): Kenneth Morris, project engineer Building contractor(s): Grove Shepherd Wilson & Kruge
Others associated with Building/Site: Original owner(s)/patron(s): Port Authority of New York & New Jersey/Trans World Airlines
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): Type of change: alteration/renovation/restoration/extension/other: adaptation in expansion of the Jet Blue Terminal Date(s): demolition began July 1, 2005 (e)iii, construction began in December 2005 Circumstances/reasons for change: In 2001, the TWA Terminal was closed because the airline went out of business.v After sitting vacant, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey proposed to restore and adapt the TWA Terminal in the expansion of the airport. Effects of changes: In 2004, an agreement was reached to restore and adapt the TWA Terminal in the expansion of the Jet Blue terminal. The original building is to remain a centerpiece, although it likely will not be operated as a passenger terminal and will likely lose its “wings.” Persons/organizations involved: The agreement was reached between the Port Authority, the Federal Aviation Administration, the New York State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The construction is being managed by Turner Construction. Arup is the planner and design manager. Gensler is the terminal Architect. DMJM Harris is the airside/landside civil engineers
Current Use: Comments: Beginning in July 2005, the TWA Terminal is being incorporated into the expansion of the Jet Blue Terminal at JFK Airport.
Current Condition: Comments:The TWA Terminal is currently under construction
General Description:

The terminal encompasses some early airport technology and advancements during the dawning of commercial jet travel, including the “satellite plan”, jetways, and baggage carousels. In the satellite plan, the “aircraft gates are clustered around structures built on the runway ramp away from the main terminal.” The form of the building itself invokes the act of flying with its “wings” and implied upward motion. The building is created “by four intersecting vaults separated by narrow bands of skylights and supported on four Y-shaped piers,” and “has an upward soaring quality.” The concrete structure “required special engineering and construction methods.”

Construction Period:
Original Physical Context:

Name(s) of surrounding area/building(s): Jet Blue Terminal Building
Other relations: The Jet Blue Terminal Building is currently under construction. During its construction, the TWA Terminal has been partially demolished, and renovated. The Jet Blue structure sits next to the TWA Terminal, connected via pedestrian tubes. The new terminal building is “meant to keep a low profile next to the Saarinen building.” Demolition on the building began in July 2005.
Construction on the TWA Terminal began in December 2005. The final steel beam of the new construction was put into place in October 2006.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

The terminal encompasses some early airport technology and advancements during the dawning of commercial jet travel, including the “satellite plan”, jetways, and baggage carousels. The concrete structure “required special engineering and construction methods.”

Social:

The construction of the terminal took place at the beginning of the “jet age” of air travel, and incorporated new technologies that reflect this social change (including the satellite plan, jetways and baggage carousels).

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The TWA Terminal “is among the chief works of one of the most highly-regarded architectural firms of the modern era.” In designing the terminal, Saarinen created a “very distinctive and memorable building while still adhering to the master plan of the airport. The design of the building expressed Saarinen’s intention ‘to interpret the sensation of flying’ and ‘be experienced as a place of movement and transition.’” Canonical status: In the TWA Terminal, “Saarinen’s firm revolutionized air terminal design through its use of daring concrete and glass forms and technological advances, producing a distinctive and highly-acclaimed work of expressionistic architecture…”
Historical:
General Assessment:
Documentation
Text references:

i “Gensler to Design JetBlue Terminal for JFK,” Gensler Architects, Aug. 5, 2004, 31 Jan. 2007(http://www.gensler.com/news/2004/jetblue.html
ii “Trans World Airlines Flight Center (now TWA Terminal A) at New York International Airport” Landmarks Preservation
Commission July 19, 1994.
iii Margaret Foster, “The Terminal Takes Off,” Preservation Online. 31 August 2005, 31 January 2007(http://www.nationaltrust.org/magazine/archives/arc_news_2005/083105.htm)
iv “JetBlue Airways Celebrates Significant Construction Milestone at JFK’s Terminal Five,” JetBlue Airways Corporation
Oct. 17, 2006, 31 January 2007 (http://www.primezone.com/newsroom/news.html?d=106993)
v “DOCOMOMO Helps Safeguard Saarinen's TWA Terminal,” AIA Architect August 2001, 31 January 3007(http://www.aia.org/aiarchitect/thisweek/tw0727/0727tw1twaadd.htm)
vi Stephanie Stubbs, “Saarinen’s TWA Terminal and the Moment of Truth,” AIA Architect September 2001, 31 January 2007(http://www.aia.org/aiarchitect/thisweek/tw0727/0727tw2projecttwa.htm)

Authoring
Recorder/Date: name of reporter: Rachel Helmke address: 264 W. 121st St. #4F New York, New York 10027 telephone: 210-724-4692 e-mail: rlh2119@columbia.edu

General Motors Technical Center

Added by Lindsey Schweinberg, last update: August 17, 2012, 12:25 pm

General Motors Technical Center
Location
30001 Van Dyke Avenue
Warren, MI 48090
United States
42° 30' 43.0884" N, 83° 1' 51.4416" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Industrial (IND)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

The General Motors Technical Center was conceptualized by General Motors’ Chairman of the Board of Directors, Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. The existing General Motors facilities, which were located throughout Detroit, were outdated, and growth and activities of the company surpassed the capacity of the existing space. Sloan and the General Motors executives agreed that it was necessary to create a new space that could bring together all of the GM staff working at different locations in order to further the work of the highly specialized GM scientists, engineers, designers, and technicians” (National Register of Historic Places Report). In March 1944, Sloan approached the General Motors Research Vice President, Charles Kettering, with the idea of relocating the entire General Motors staff outside of Detroit, and creating a space large enough to accommodate the needs of the corporation’s activities. On December 13, 1944, Sloan received support from GM’s Board. Only a few weeks later, a 326-acre site of farmland was chosen in Warren, Michigan, twelve miles north of Detroit.

Vice President of GM Styling, Harley Earl, insisted that the new General Motors Technical Center not only create the facilities necessary for a world-class corporation, but also, it must exude the visual identity of one as well. While some on the Board, including Charles Kettering, thought that the Technical Center should be a purely functional, utilitarian expression designed by a local architect with experience in building large industrial complexes, such as Albert Kahn. Earl won out and selected the internationally renowned firm Saarinen and Swanson.

Saarinen and Swanson, in conjunction with landscape architect Thomas Church, designed a modern complex composed of a central, seven-acre irregular-shaped laek with five groups of connected buildings surrounding it at an estimated $20 million. GM was impressed with the design and gave the commission to Saarinen and Swanson on September 19, 1945. At the time of its groundbreaking on October 23, 1945, it was considered by Architectural Forum to be the largest project in the United States.

Post World War II, consumer demand for automobiles drastically increased, and General Motors needed to use funds for the Technical Center to meet the demands of the consumer, thus terminating construction of the center. In 1948, when they resumed plans for the construction of the Technical Center, their needs had grown: the facility would now cost $60 million (and would end up costing $100 million at its completion). Saarinen and Swanson had changed names to Saarinen, Saarinen and Associates, and the firm had entered another contract with GM on December 3, 1948 (as did Thomas Church). Eero Saarinen led the project, and his designs included some 1945 features, but instead of connected buildings, there instead would be six main facilities that would be nearly uniform and outfitted similarly: steel, aluminum, and glass curtain walls, with colored glazed brick end walls. They were also planned around a large lake. The six main buildings included: a ten-story office building; four buildings to house GM staff; and a Service Section building to maintain the center. Each complex was composed of wings according to their function, and usually attached to the main building by glass enclosed corridors or pedestrian skybridges. The office tower was ultimately edited out of the design to save money.

The interiors of nearly all of the buildings were designed as flexible interior spaces to accommodate changing office and technical needs. This was achieved by avoiding the use of interior columns. Saarinen explicitly wanted to create buildings that would not have to be significantly altered so to “avoid usual slum-like appearance of factory buildings.” Saarinen also incorporated the machinery into the interior space, even considering the color of the machines when planning the interior.

The landscape design of the Technical Center significantly changed in the redesign, evident in its high-style modernist arrangement of shapes. In 1950, there was already a need to expand the current plan, and GM purchased more land, bringing its land ownership from 326 acres in 1944 to 813 acres in 1954. Saarinen was a consultant on plans for new buildings on the new property; the largest expansion was to occur on the east side of railroad tracks the divided the original planned center and the expanded center. The east side plan included five new building, the complex to be named the Chevrolet-Fisher Body Engineering Center: engineering facilities for Chevrolet and Fisher Body; an office tower (similar to Saarinen’s original plan); and a restaurant (similar to Saarinen’s Central Restaurant). Saarinen had wanted to play a larger role in designing these structures, but some GM executives thought his construction methods had previously been too costly, and his predilection towards more human scaled industrial buildings would not serve the growing needs of the complex.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Initial Commission: September 19, 1945 / New Commission: December 3, 1948 / Construction began: 1949 / West Campus (Saarinen Design) Completion: 1955 / Inauguration by President Dwight D. Eisenhower: May 16, 1956
Architectural and other Designer(s): Architect: Saarinen, Saarinen and Associates and Argonaut Realty (GM in-house architects); Landscape designer: Thomas Church; Consulting engineer: Smith, Hinchman and Grylls (SHG); Building contractor: Detroit firm Bryant and Detwiler 
Others associated with Building/Site: Chairman of GM Board: Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.; General Motors Vice President of Styling: Harley Jefferson Earl
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): A discussion of significant alterations to the Technical Center must be prefaced with a brief discussion on what is considered original and what is considered an addition to the original site. Eero Saarinen designed the West Campus along with Thomas Church, which includes the formal arrangement of building complexes around the rectilinear lake, all water features in the lake, and other landscaping details. The mid-1950s expansion, while designed by GM’s Argonaut Realty with Saarinen as a consultant, lacks the high-style modernist design and landscaping that Saarinen’s West Campus achieves. For the most part, the Argonaut Realty designs were more utilitarian structures that made use of some of the architectural vocabulary of the campus. In this sense, East Campus can be considered an addition, even though it was constructed only a few years later, with the original architect as a consultant. However, both the West and East Campuses are included in the National Register’s historic district designation, so for the sake of the discussion on alterations, the East Campus plan is considered original. Later expansions are considered significant alterations to the original Technical Center. These started in 1959 to 1962, the first of which was the Ternstedt Divisional Offices and Central Engineering Building; others that were more utilitarian included the Incinerator Building and General Mail Building 1. These two still attempted to maintain architectural unity with the original buildings. The last building to represent the architectural character of Saarinen’s design was the Emissions Building in 1970. From 1970 to 1985, the new buildings added to the Technical Center were further removed from the architectural vocabulary established by Eero Saarinen, presumably to cut costs. These include the General Storage Building 2 (1970), Research Biomedical Laboratory (1977), the GMISCA Building (1978), the Aerodynamics Laboratory (1979), the Services Research Building (1979), the GMAD Building (1980), and the GMAC Building (1985). Between 1999 and 2003, the General Motors Technical Center saw its most drastic addition, as well as the completion of a $1 billion new master plan and rehabilitation efforts. The Vehicle Engineering Center (VEC) designed by Kaplan-McLaughlin-Diaz (KMD) and built by Parsons Brinckerhoff Construction Services, was the key element in the company’s investment on the Warren Campus. It consists of an eight-story, 960,000-square-foot office tower notched into the existing two-story structure of the Fisher Body building. Other projects in the GM Technical Center are a new visitor’s center, the rehabilitation of several offices, vehicle testing and manufacturing buildings, construction of new parking decks; and infrastructure improvements. The Building Conservation Associates (BCA) and MKThink were in charge of the restoration efforts. Only three buildings (considered non-contributing by the National Register Historic District Designation) have been demolished. Original landscaping has been altered: more parking has been added to the campus over the years, generally constructed on wide areas of open grass, and many original trees have been leveled for this purpose as well. Also, a four-lane roadway was constructed in the northwestern corner of the campus in 1973. This entailed the removal of one road, one entrance, and a Saarinen-designed gatehouse. The exteriors of the buildings have not been significantly altered, but many of the interiors have been modernized to meet today’s standards.
Current Use: While the operations in some of the buildings has changed, the General Motors Technical Center still functions as General Motor’s main North American engineering facility.
Current Condition: Over the years, the Technical Center has evolved directly with the needs of the corporation. Exterior additions have been constructed as the need for additional and new types of space continued to grow and the interiors have been continually altered to allow for the most efficient work environment. Still, the overall character of the Technical Center is argued to be today very much as it was when the last historic building was completed. Although new buildings have been added to the complex, architects and preservationists agree that the original design concept has allowed this to occur without compromising the original design intent. Unfortunately, the landscape in other parts of the campus has been less in keeping with the Saarinen and Church original plan. The demand for additional surface parking led to the removal of landscape elements, which had served to screen parking areas and provide visual relief. Landscaping in the west campus has been preserved to maintain its original impression. The Water Tower, sculptures, and fountains are also original and have been very well maintained. Very little restoration work has had to be done (painting, etc.). Saarinen’s structures have been excellently preserved because maintenance is easy due to good design. However, in the early 1970s, the lobby of GM’s Styling Section administration building was altered. The white fiberglass receptionist's desk and the hand painted stainless steel sculpture by artist Buell Mullen were removed. In 2003, GM simply put up copied variations of these two works of art where they once stood.
General Description:

While the General Motors Technical Center today is recognized as a singular, unified campus, it can also be understood as having an original plan, which was expanded by numerous later additions. The original master plan of the campus, designed by Eero Saarinen with landscape architect Thomas Church, was 320 acres and comprised twenty-five buildings. Today, it is 640 acres with thirty-seven buildings.

The original General Motors Technical Center was designed around a 22 acre lake that contains four islands, its rectilinear shape defining the shape of the original campus. Five Saarinen-designed building complexes surround the lake: one at each end, and three lining the eastern side of the lake. The complexes are low, one- to three-story structures with metal and glass curtain walls and colored glazed brick end walls. Eero Saarinen designed five primary facilities. Each of these consists of wings articulated according to their function and attached to one another by slender, glass enclosed corridors or elevated bridges. While maintaining an overall horizontality, the differing heights of parts of buildings also create variety. Their setting in a highly ordered, classical landscape effectively extends the geometry of the buildings directly into the open space. Saarinen also designed a 115’ long and 50’ high fountain to sit in the place of a ten story office building which was part of the original design, but was not constructed. An additional 132’ stainless steel fountain was built in the northeastern corner of the lake to provide further height variety.

The primary building built around the lake include: the Research Center (to the north; Manufacturing B, Manufacturing A, Central Restaurant, and Global Portfolio Development Center (east), and the Design Center (south). All of these original buildings are one to three stories. They are organized by function, and most include an administration wing and a one and a half story shop or laboratory in to the side or in the back, connected to the main building by a glass covered corridor. The automobile was an obvious source of inspiration for the Technical Center. Nearly all of the original twenty-five buildings were curtain wall construction: the structural I-beams were expressed on the exterior, visible in standardized intervals, with clear and opaque glass, as well as enameled steel panels, set into the aluminum frames. The end walls of most buildings feature colored glazed brick to lighten the industrial aesthetic. Additionally, the buildings were all prefabricated, each piece built in a factory elsewhere and assembled on site. Short, long buildings (none were over three stories tall) took a cue from Albert Kahn’s factory design in Detroit. Many of the interiors of the main buildings were decorated with walnut wall paneling, travertine floors, and an iconic spiral granite staircase suspended by steel tension rods. The exception is the prominent Styling Auditorium (located in the Design Center complex) which is defined by its shiny dome. It is 65’ wide and 185’ across. The Design Center is, “one of the most distinctive complexes at the Technical Center” (NRHP). Some differences in the design from the other buildings include: the Administration building (in the front of the complex) was supposed to elevated onto concrete pilotis (though it was not due to the need for space) and it also had an interior gold leaf “grotto” as well as an executive dining room called the “blue room” because of its blue plastic laminate and blue fabric wall paneling; the one-story circular garage glad in yellow glazed brick also contained a color studio ontop of it (was destroyed in a fire in 1979, but was rebuilt later); and the Design Auditorium (then called the Styling Auditorium), which featured an aluminum clad dome which sits on a one story black glazed panel base. A Design Fabrication Building was built by Argonaut in 1968 in back of the studio. Another building of note is the 1954 Central Restaurant, for which Saarinen won an AIA honor award in 1955. It is a one and a half story structure with a flat roof and overhanging eaves on three sides of the building. Three of the facades are curtain walls, and there is a black glazed brick wall on the other side.

Saarinen and Church created roadways lined with trees that framed viewsheds seen from the car; “the placement of roadways highlights distinctive building facades, artwork, fountains, and other elements of the campus” (NRHP). They also planned a series of expansive lawns that reinforced the rectilinear nature of the original campus. Parking lots have since taken over many of these lawns. Other structures include three Saarinen-designed gate houses (one was demolished), a water pumping plant and sewage treatment plant, and a test track.

Buildings on the west campus which are not original include the Research Engineering Lab North (1952, Saarinen consulted on it); the Research Chemical Laboratory (1953/Argonaut); another Research Chemical Laboratory (1977/Argonaut); the Facilities Operations Building (1969/ Argonaut); a Wind Tunnel (1953/Argonaut); the Research Safety Health and Environment Building (1977/Argonaut); and the Aerodynamics Lab (1979/Argonaut)

The original center (also known as the west campus) is separated from the slightly newer east campus by a railroad track that runs though the land north to south. The east campus was designed largely by Argonaut Realty, with some direction by Saarinen. It emulates some of the Saarinen/Church landscaping features, such as tree plantings around parking lots and roadways. However, the planning of the east side was far less successful: it has no formal border and need for space necessitated a smaller lake (11 acres) and less trees. There is also a disjuncture in architectural styles as well as formal arrangement, as additions were added in a piecemeal fashion.

The east lake is surrounded by two buildings: the Powertrain Engineering Center (1953-55/Argonaut) to the west, and the 1953-55 Vehical Engineering Center (featuring the new addition) to the south. There is parking lot and the Chevrolet Central Office to the north of the lake. These buildings were not built by Saarinen, though the earlier buildings on the east side were influenced by his design: although much larger, the arrangement of their functions was similar, as was the exposed I-beams and bands of white brick and enameled steel panels. The Vehical Engineering Center is the largest complex with 1.7 million square feet of floor space.

Other buildings on the east side include: the Vehicle Eningeering Center West (1953-1955/Argonaut), Primary Switch House and Hazardous Waste Building (1953-55/Argonaut), Chevrolet Central Office (1959-62/Argonaut), GM Management Training Center (1965/Argonaut); Emissions Building (1970/Argonaut); Cadillac Headquarters (a radical departure from the surrounding buildings, built in 1980/Argonaut); 7000 Building (also inconsistent, built in 1978/Argonaut), Service Technology Building (1979/Argonaut), and the Worldwide Purchasing Building (1985/ Argonaut).

There is also another section of the Technical Center, located south of 12 Mile Road. There are four buildings here: Central Mail Building (1958/Arognaut), General Storage Building 1 (1961/Argonaut), Parts Fabrication Building (1951, Argo), and General Storage Building 2 (1970/Argonaut).

Construction Period:

The initial period of construction was between 1949 and 1956. Detriot-based Smith, Hinchman and Grylls were the engineers on the project and managed the general contractor, Bryant and Detwiler. The main buildings were completed by 1955, with all of the remaining structures completed in 1956. Assembly line construction: modular units were made off site and then assembled easily on site, Saarinen’s design. The foundations were concrete, the roofs were asphalt, and the walls were generally steel, aluminum, glass, brick, and concrete.

Original Physical Context:

The General Motors Technical Center is located in Warren, twelve miles north of downtown Detroit. Warren has grown to be Michigan’s third largest city. Many corporate headquarters can be found in its suburban environment. Daimler Chrysler’s Dodge City manufacturing complex is also in the proximity. The city prides itself in its “Small town lifestyle, big city commerce.”

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Eero Saarinen faced the problem of constructing modern curtain walled buildings during an early period in the development of this type of architecture and method of construction. He was assisted by GM’s engineers; they developed innovative solutions to a number of technical problems together. Among the most innovative building techniques employed at the Technical Center were rubber mountings, or gaskets, used to make the seals around the glazed and porcelain enameled steel panels in the curtain walls watertight. This technique was developed after caulking applied to the windows of the first buildings constructed at the Technical Center failed, allowing water to leak into the interiors. Neoprene rubber gaskets used for this purpose had been developed by GM’s Inland Manufacturing Division for the installation of automobile windshields, and, through a collaborative effort between the architects and GM, were adapted for use in the construction of the Technical Center. Another new technique was used in the production of glazed brick for the distinctive end walls of various structures in the Technical Center. After consultation between the architect and GM’s AC Spark Plug Division, which used ceramics in the manufacture of its products, a glazing compound was produced that allowed the bricks to retain their color. The bricks were then made on site in a special kiln. The prefabricated metal panels used, along with glass, in the curtain walls of the Technical Center were also innovative because they employed a honeycomb patterned paper core sandwiched between two porcelain enameled sheets of steel to provide insulation. This technology was borrowed from the aircraft industry. At the Technical Center, Saarinen was among the first architects to employ these panels for building construction. In addition to GM engineers, the Styling Staff assisted Saarinen with the Technical Center, helping develop the first completely luminous ceiling through the design of modular molded plastic pans that allowed no reflections or shadows to be produced. These were used in the Styling Staff’s drafting studios to assist in the design of new automobiles. The architects and building engineers working on the Technical Center also developed innovative construction techniques independently of GM’s engineers. The most significant of these was the prefabricated aluminum extrusion frame used in the curtain walls. In order to hang the curtain walls from the steel frame of the buildings, exterior steel columns were wrapped with extruding aluminum to which the other materials in the curtain walls were attached. This would eventually become a common building technique. Perhaps the most remarkable new construction methodology occurred at the domed Styling Auditorium, which was designed to allow the viewing of new car designs under a variety of lighting conditions. Standing 65 feet high, with a span of 186 feet, the concept for this self-supporting aluminum clad dome was derived from the pressure vessel industry, which manufactured industrial metal tanks. Constructed of aluminum plates, the stressed metal skin of the dome was attached to the base of the structure by a tension ring, which also supported an interior acoustical dome serving as the auditorium’s ceiling. (Evaluation from the National Register for Historic Preservation Nomination.)

Social:

The General Motors Tech Center was the world's first campus of buildings designed with the specific function to support a corporation's technological research and development. When inaugurated, seventy-eight newspapers covered the event and an unprecedented broadcasting by NBC transmits it to all parts of the nation. Hollywood stars were invited to attend and unveil the glistening titanium Firebird II (presented together with the Tech Center). An address by President Dwight D. Eisenhower was broadcasted via radio from Washington, D.C. on May 16, 1985. The event was reported as symbolic of the promise of technology in postwar America. General Motors’ progress echoed the excitement and confidence 1950s America had in itself. Many innovations in the automotive industry have been carried out in the Technical Center. Soon after the first GM personnel relocated to Warren, they started work on the advanced research and engineering projects the campus was constructed to facilitate. A prime example was the Isotope Research Laboratory, which was part of the Research Staff facilities. The Styling Staff studied human measurement data in order to develop a system for designing car interiors contoured to the human body. The advanced computer facilities of the Engineering Staff allowed GM to devise GMR DYANA, a new computer programming language that facilitated the use of computers to answer engineering problems. At the laboratories of the Research Staff, work on the oxidation of automobile exhausts carried out in the late 1950s played a role in the development of the catalytic converter, which reduces harmful emissions that produce smog. The ultimate goal of the innovative work of the Technical Center was to allow GM to improve its production methods and manufacture new and better automobiles. As was often the case in the automobile industry, innovations did not mean the production of entirely new automotive technology but incremental changes in products over the course of several years. These constant innovations resulted in automobiles that improved over time, such as the Chevrolet Corvette, recognized as one of the great American automobiles. (Evaluation from the National Register for Historic Preservation Nomination.)

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The General Motors Tech Center was the pioneer of the American suburban/corporate campus of low-rise, curtain-walled pavilions in a park-like setting. Its arrangement of International Style facilities around a rectangular lake was inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s design for the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Instead of making it a pedestrian campus, Saarinen drew inspiration from GM’s principal product: the automobile. As Saarinen stated: “The Center was, of course, designed at automobile scale and the changing vistas were conceived to be seen as one drove around the project.” Saarinen was the first to translate Mies van der Rohe’s austere purity into a sleeker, more American package. The Modern Movement’s architectural forms became thinner, slicker, and more geometrically classicizing than they were before. GM’s principal need was the provision of flexible interior spaces that would allow for the regular rearrangement of office and technical areas. Saarinen had to eliminate interior columns to create large open areas, using moveable partition walls to delineate offices and shops. Utilities and mechanical equipment were installed within this modular framework to facilitate alterations. Another of GM’s main requests was to avoid the usual drab appearance of factory buildings. The sleek, modular design was articulated on the exterior through exposed I-beams that were placed at regular intervals, usually every five feet. Attention to design is apparent in the machinery within shop and technical areas, even the color of such equipment was carefully considered. This mix of design and technology is most evident in the Dynamometer Building at the Engineering Center. Here exhaust stacks that carry emissions from the dynamometers that test engines become the iconic image of the building. (Evaluation from the National Register for Historic Preservation Nomination.)
Historical:

The importance of Saarinen’s achievement has continued to receive recognition (in 1985 when the AIA awarded the Technical Center its 25 Year Award for enduring significance in the development of American architecture). Saarinen won an AIA Honor Ward in 1955 for the Central Restaurant. Architectural historians have recognized the significance of the GM Technical Center as well: Henry-Russell Hitchcock considered the Technical Center “a major example of American industrial building raised at the behest of a corporate client into the realm of distinguished architecture,” and Saarinen “one of the leaders of post-war architecture in the United States....” Allan Temko saw the Technical Center as one of the first significant examples of the International Style in the post-war United States, and said that Saarinen’s design was “one of the first major triumphs of the new architecture in this country. Where else, in the early 1950’s, could one see industrial technology brought to bear so imaginatively on so many vexing problems of contemporary design?” Several architectural historians have commented that, at the Technical Center, Saarinen created an American interpretation of the International Style. The Technical Center remains a preeminent corporate research and development center, the site of some of GM’s most important technological advances, it is architecturally significant as one of the most influential examples of International Style Architecture in American Corporate developments, and is an outstanding example of Eero Saarinen’s work. The success of its original design can be attributed to Saarinen’s ability to achieve a work of architectural art while at the same time satisfying GM’s need for a functional, flexible workplace that could respond to the changing needs of technology.
Fortune magazine hailed the Tech Center as “one of the century’s notable contributions to an integrated industrial architecture,” Architectural Forum said that the Tech Center is “an architectural feat which may be unique in our lifetime.”

Saarinen designed four more corporate facilities after the General Motors Tech Center: IBM’s Thomas A. Watson Research Center (Yorktown, NY, 1961), the Bell Telephone Research Laboratories (Holmdel, NJ, 1962), and the John Deere and Company Headquarters (Moline, IL, 1963), and the CBS Building (NY, NY, 1965).

(Evaluation predominantly from the National Register for Historic Preservation Nomination.)

General Assessment:
The General Motors technical Center is historically significant as one of the preeminent corporate research and development centers constructed in the United States in the period following World War II, as the site of some of GM’s most important technological advances, and as the site at which some of the most renowned American automobiles were designed. The Technical Center is architecturally significant as one of the earliest and most influential examples of the application of the International Style to American corporate architecture and as an outstanding example of the work of internationally prominent architect Eero Saarinen. Using a specific design vocabulary, Saarinen and Church created a rectilinear plan that produced a unity between the landscape and Saarinen’s distinctive modernist buildings. With its large open spaces and wide vistas, Saarinen and Church created a classical landscape that effectively extended the geometry of the buildings directly into the landscape. It is no accident to call the campus the “Versailles of Industry.” (Evaluation predominantly from the National Register for Historic Preservation Nomination.)
Documentation
Text references:

Associated Press. “GM to start work in June on new research center.” The New York Times 22 May 1949.

BCA Research files on the General Motors Technical Center. (New York Office, Claudia Kavenaugh).

“Gen. Motors to Dedicate New Center.” Chicago Daily Tribune 9 Apr 1956.

General Motors Public Relations Staff. “Where Today Meets Tomorrow: General Motors Technical Center.” GM: Detroit, 1956.

“General Motors Technical Center.” Michigan Modern, 4 Jan 2010. Web 4 Aug 2010 .

GM Corporate History Website. General Motors. Web. 10 Aug 2010 .

“GM’s Engineering Center.” Interiors Magazine, January 1957.

“GM Celebrates 60th Anniversary of the Automatic Transmission.” Automotive Intelligence, 1999. Web. 10 Aug 2010 .

“GM Technical Center.” Parsons Brinckerhoff. Web 6 Aug 2010 .

KMD Architects. Web. 9 Aug 2010 .

Louchheim, Aline B. “Now Saarinen The Son.” The New York Times 26 April 26 1953.

Makovsky, Paul. “Motor City.” Metropolis Magazine 1 June 2003. Web. 8 Aug 2010 .

Mullaney, Thomas E. “GM’s Expansion is 60% completed.” The New York Times 9 Jan 1955.

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: General Motors Technical Center. OMB No. 1024-0018. 9 Jan 2000. Web. 7 Aug 2010 < http://michiganmodern.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/gmtechcenter_nr-nomina....

Pierce, Brett. “General Motors Speeds Research.” The New York Times 25 July 1945.

“Versailles of Industry.” Official Harley Earl Website. Web. 4 Aug 2010 .

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Name of reporter: Carlos Huber Address: 502 W 113th Street, Apt. 4D, New York, NY Telephone: 917 892 9968 email: ch2481@columbia.edu Date of report: February 24, 2007.  
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