Airport (for Washington D.C.)
Eero Saarinen 1962
The spacious terminal building
of Washington DC's international airport is structurally exciting both
outside and in. A huge concrete sheet is slung between two asymmetric rows
of concrete hooks, creating an inviting and dynamic curve as you approach.
Invisibly within the concrete, it is steel suspension-bridge cables
between the hooks that support the weight of the concrete roof, which
Saarinen described as 'like a huge, continuous hammock suspended between
The simplicity of the design
allowed for elegant expansion of the building in the 1990s, by adding more
concrete trees at each end of the row and suspending further hammocks
The outward slope of the
concrete hooks counterbalances the tension in the cables supporting the
roof sheet; Saarinen, in his own words, 'exaggerated and dramatized' the
slope to create the building's 'dynamic and soaring look'.
'While Dulles remains a modern
monument to the confluence of use and imagery... it is also handicapped
by its uniqueness. No lessons flowed from this building because, apart
from copying it, there was no way to expand its application. In the end
Saarinen's was, like Wright's, an architecture of emotion applied to
specific requirements and sites.'
Carter Wiseman in Shaping a
Saarinen died in 1961, a year
before the building was completed.
Simon Glynn 2001 (updated 2006)
How to visit
Dulles International Airport is
about an hour's drive from Washington DC, with plenty of public transport
options available - see the airport's web site below.
Books and other web
is the airport's web site, with comprehensive maps and information
about getting to the airport.(The
airport's logo appreciates its architecture)
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