Wednesday, April 24, 2013

“Wenn Etwas Zu Lang Ist—Mach Es Länger”

Eero Saarinen’s Dulles Airport Terminal in 1962, the year Dulles opened.

Saarinen’s Dulles Terminal is, I believe, the greatest of all Twentieth-Century buildings.

My father refers to Dulles as “The King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, of our day”—which is intended to be the highest praise. (My father is of the opinion that King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, is the greatest building on the planet. I offer no disagreement.)

Dulles gives me chills every time I see it. One of the great drives in all the world is a traversal of the Dulles Access Road, the winding route through the low hills of the Virginia countryside that ends at Dulles. For the final two miles of the drive, one gets glimpse after glimpse of Saarinen’s inspired structure from afar, from several different angles, as one approaches the airport—until at last one clears the final sweeping turn of the roadway, and for the first time encounters the great structure straight on. It is always a breathtaking moment, no matter how many times one has already experienced the drive.

Dulles has been extended, significantly, at both ends, subsequent to the completion of the original structure. The expanded Dulles is even more beautiful than the original—and bears out Saarinen’s maxim quoted in my header.

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