The 50-year career of Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950) can be divided into two parts. Practicing in Finland for 25 years, he first established an international reputation based on his "National Romantic" and Jugendstill-inspired architecture. The second phase of Eliel Saarinen's career began when he emigrated to the United States in 1923, after placing second the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower competition. While practicing in the United States, Eliel Saarinen also assumed the role of educator, first at the University of Michigan and then at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Eliel Saarinen not only designed the Cranbrook complex but, under his stewardship, it became one of the most influential design schools in the nation.
Gottlieb Eliel Saarinen was born in Rantisalmi, Finland, in 1873. A portion of Eliel Saarinen's childhood was spent in the Russian region of Ingermanland near St. Petersburg, a result of his father being in the clergy. The proximity of St. Petersburg provided the young Eliel Saarinen with an urban experience unequaled in more provincial Finland and also gave him access to The Hermitage. Eliel Saarinen initially intended to be a painter, a desire that he acknowledged was stimulated by visits to the museum. After graduating from high school in 1893, Eliel Saarinen enrolled in the Department of Architecture at the Technical Institute in Helsinki, simultaneously taking drawing courses at Helsinki University. While at the Institute, Eliel Saarinen formed friendships with Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren; the three formed an architectural partnership in 1896, a year before Eliel Saarinen graduated. The Gesellius, Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen office lasted until 1905, when Lindgren left the partnership; Gesellius and Eliel Saarinen continued to practice together for two additional years. Eliel Saarinen married Gesellius's sister Louise (Loja) in 1904 (his second marriage); they had two children, a daughter Eva-Lisa (Pipsan) and a son Eero.
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