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Alvar Aalto


Finlandia Hall.

Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto (February 3, 1898 - May 11, 1976) was a Finnish architect and designer. He was generally known as Alvar Aalto.

He was noted for his humanistic approach and for being one of the first and the most influential architects of Scandinavian modernism, so much so that he is sometimes known as the "Father of Modernism" in Scandinavia. His work includes architecture, furniture and glassware.

He was a member of the Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne. Major works include the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Finland, and the campus of Helsinki University of Technology. Aalto's glassware includes the world-famous Aalto Vase.

He is the eponym of the Alvar Aalto Medal, now considered one of world architecture’s most prestigious awards.

Alvar Aalto was born in Kuortane, Finland. He studied architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology from 1916 to 1921. He returned to Jyväskylä, where he opened his first architectural office in 1923. The following year he married architect Aino Marsio. Their honeymoon journey to Italy sealed an intellectual bond with the culture of the Mediterranean region that was to remain important to Aalto for the rest of his life.

Aalto's wide field of activity ranged from furniture and glassware designs to architecture and painting. His vase designs are world-famous. He invented a new form of laminated bent-plywood furniture in 1932. Aalto furniture is manufactured by Artek, a company Aalto co-founded. Aalto glassware (Aino as well as Alvar) is manufactured by iittala.

Significant buildings

The Aalto-Theater opera house in Essen, Germany.
The Aalto-Theater opera house in Essen, Germany.

1921 - 1923: Bell tower of Kauhajärvi Church, Lapua, Finland 
1924 - 1928: Municipal hospital, Alajärvi, Finland 
1926 - 1929: Defence Corps Building, Jyväskylä, Finland 
1927 - 1935: Municipal library, Viipuri, Finland (now Vyborg, Russia), new drawings, 1928, 1929, 1933, built according to last drawings 1934 - 1935. 
1928 - 1929, 1930: Turun Sanomat newspaper offices, Turku, Finland 
1928 - 1929: Tuberculosis sanatorium and staff housing, Paimio, Finland 
1931: Central University Hospital, Zagreb, Croatia (former Yugoslavia) 
1932 - Villa Tammekann, Tartu, Estonia 
1934: Corso theatre, restaurant interior, Zürich, Switzerland 
1937: Finnish Pavilion, 1937 World's Fair 
1937 - 1939: Villa Mairea, Noormarkku, Finland 
1939: Finnish Pavilion, 1939 World's Fair 
1947 - 1948: Baker House, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 
1949 - 1966: Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo, Finland 
1949 - 1952: Säynätsalo Town Hall, 1949 competition, built 1952, Säynätsalo (now part of Jyväskylä), Finland, 
1950 - 1957: Kansaneläkelaitos (National Pension Institution) office building, Helsinki, Finland 
1952 - 1958: House of Culture, Helsinki, Finland 
1958 - 1987: Town centre, Seinäjoki, Finland 
1958 - 1972: North Jutland Art Museum, Aalborg, Denmark 
1965: Regional Library of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland 
1962 - 1971: Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland 
1963 - 1965: Building for Westmannia-Dalecarlia Nation, Uppsala, Sweden 
1965 - 1968: Nordic House, Reykjavík, Iceland 
1970: Mount Angel Abbey Library, Mount Angel, Oregon 
1959 - 1988: Essen opera house, Essen, Germany 

Furniture and glassware

The Savoy Vase, also known as the Aalto Vase.

1932: Paimio Chair [1] 
1933: Three-legged stacking Stool 60 [2] 
1933: Four-legged Stool E60 [3] 
1939: Armchair 406 [4] 
1954 Floor lamp A805 [5] 
1959 Floor lamp A810 [6] 
1936: Aalto Vase 

Göran Schildt 
Göran Schildt has written and edited many books on Aalto.

Aalto, Alvar. The Architectural Drawings of Alvar Aalto, 1917-1939, in eleven volumes. Prepared by the Alvar Aalto Archive in collaboration with the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, and the Alvar Aalto Museum, Jyväskylä; with introduction and project descriptions by Göran Schildt. New York, Garland Pub., 1994. 
Aalto, Alvar. Alvar Aalto in His Own Words. Schildt, Göran, (Ed.) Rizzoli, New York, 1998. 
Schildt, Göran. Alvar Aalto: the complete catalogue of architecture, design, and art. Timothy Binham, English translator. Rizzoli, New York, 1994. 
Other authors 
Pallasmaa, Juhani (Ed.) Alvar Aalto Furniture, Museum of Finnish Architecture. Helsinki 1984 
Reed, Peter (Ed.) Alvar Aalto: between humanism and materialism. Museum of Modern Art/H.N. Abrams. New York, 1998. 
Ruusuvuori, Aarno (Ed.) Alvar Aalto 1898-1976. Museum of Finnish Architecture. Helsinki 1998 
Research notes 
Books have been written on many of Aalto's designs. They are also documented in the various architectural magazines. 
One of the most extensive collections of references on Alvar Aalto in the U.S. can be found at the University of Oregon.

Detail of Baker House facade onto the Charles River.

Auditorium of the Viipuri Municipal Library in the 1930s.

Helsinki Univ. of Tech. Auditorium.