150 West 65th StreetNew York, NY
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Curator, Museum of the City of New York
Artistic Director, Lincoln Center Theater
Executive Producer, Lincoln Center Theater
Part of Lincoln Center, the Vivian Beaumont was conceived as a repertory theater.
The first Broadway theater to be built since 1928 and part of a complex that included the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, and the New York Philharmonic, it was one of the most important cultural commissions in the United States at the time. Eero Saarinen, a Detroit-based architect, was chosen to design the theater and he collaborated with the prominent set designer Jo Mielziner on the interior. Mielziner made the interior of the theater very flexible by designing the auditorium with a stage that could be either a thrust stage that projects into the audience or could convert into a more traditional proscenium stage. For many years, producers found it difficult to program the theater due to this unusual configuration. In 1985, executive producer Bernard Gersten took over the nonprofit space and turned it into a successful membership-based theater presenting such works as The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation, The Coast of Utopia, and The Light in the Piazza.
Eero Saarinen was born in 1910 in Finland. His father, Eliel Saarinen, was a famous architect known for his Nordic refinement of art nouveau style. The family moved to Michigan when Saarinen was thirteen years old. Saarinen studied sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris and architecture at the Yale School of Architecture, graduating in 1934.
During World War II, he worked for the Office of Strategic Services. Originally known for his modern and elegant furniture design, he won a contest to design the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, also known as the Gateway Arch, in St. Louis in 1948. His buildings, including the TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport and the main terminal of Dulles International Airport, are known for their sculptural qualities. Saarinen designed the CBS Building, also known as Black Rock, in midtown Manhattan. Considered one of the masters of twentieth-century American architecture, Saarinen died of a brain tumor at age fifty-one.
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