Design Observer – "Love & Architecture"
« When Aline met Eero in January 1953, she was the associate art editor and critic for the New York Times, recently divorced, and on a trip to Detroit to meet the young architect whose General Motors Technical Center had proved to be such a smashing success. She was to write a profile of Saarinen for the New York Times Magazine, eventually published on April 23 as “Now Saarinen the Son” with the byline Aline B. Louchheim. A little over a year later she would become Aline B. Saarinen.
Aline was first swept off her feet by the buildings, 25 of them spread out over 320 acres around a huge rectangular pool. The long sides of the three-story buildings housing Engineering and Research, Service, Process Development and Styling were greenish glass curtain walls, still something new; the short walls were bright glazed brick, yellow, orange, two reds, two blues, olive, gray and black. A shining aluminum dome covered the circular space in which Styling tested and displayed GM cars; a shining 50-foot stainless steel water tower marked GM’s place in the sky above the flat suburban landscape.
Aline wrote in a birthday letter to her future husband:
The General Motors job was all and more than anyone had written about it:
really a twentieth century monument, yes, “itself like a well-engineered industrial
product,” yes, a beautiful expression of our technology, yes, imaginative and
big and wonderful in its changing relationships, yes, splendid in the carrying
out of the concept down to the careful and pleasing detail, yes, a group of
buildings that recognized man’s dignity vis-à-vis the machine, yes, very human —
This account and much more correspondence between and by both Saarinens is available online, digitized by the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian as the Aline and Eero Saarinen Papers, 1906-1977. Their letters, particularly Aline’s history of their romance quoted above, provide a sometimes shockingly intimate look at an apparent coup de foudre of two equals, both stars in their respective firmaments, and both with previous entanglements (him, a wife and two children; her, an engagement and two children, plus her journalism career). »
(Source: Nicolas Marier)
(Photo: Aline and Eero Saarinen boating, ca. 1955. Photographer unknown. Aline and Eero Saarinen papers, 1857-1972. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)