How Tomorrow Looked, Yesterday

Last week, General Motors’ design manager, Susan Skarsgard, spoke at the Museum of the City of New York on her book Where Today Meets Tomorrow, a monumental tome devoted to Eero Saarinen’s design of the GM Technical Center, in Warren, Michigan. Before her talk, Skarsgard was kind enough to give me a close-up tour of what is literally a one-of-a-kind book: Skarsgard personally put it together for the 50th anniversary of the Technical Center, in 2006, and there is only her one original copy. Which is a shame, because after spending an hour immersed in the scores of archival photos, plans, and other documents–not to mention pop-up models of interior spaces and a sumptuous fabric lining borrowed from the interior of a 1956 Cadillac–I almost felt like I had visited the iconic campus in person. 

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It was an ideal companion experience to Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future, the first-rate exhibition on the architect’s career, which remains up at the MCNY only through Sunday. If you’re in New York this weekend and haven’t seen the show yet, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. After Sunday, it will travel to its last stop, in New Haven, where it will be on display at the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale School of Architecture Gallery from February 19 to May 2.

GMTech2Related: Paul Makovsky toured the GM Technical Center, explaining why it is still a model corporate campus, and, in 2005, he interviewed the historian and critic Jane Merkel on Saarinen’s legacy. In 2008, we talked to several alumni of Saarinen’s office–including Kevin Roche, Robert Venturi, and Cesar Pelli–about Eero Saarinen and Associates’ unique problem-solving approach.

Categories: Bookshelf

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