Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis
“If a building is honest, the architecture is religious.”
In December 2016, American Masters on PBS premiered the documentary Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future. It's well-worth watching and gave a fascinating peek into the work, thinking behind the work and personal life of Eero, son of the famed architect Eliel Saarinen. Here in Minneapolis we have a Eliel-designed building – Christ Church Lutheran. You can read about the history of the church/sanctuary (designed by Eliel and completed in 1949) and the education building (designed by Eero and completed in 1962) here. Pictures don't do it justice – the interior is stunning.
From the CCL website:
"These are the words of renowned Finnish-American architect Eliel Saarinen, designer of the sanctuary of Christ Church Lutheran. Saarinen’s “honest” use of light, brick, stone, concrete and wood create a space of stunning simplicity, tranquility, and spirituality. Since its construction in 1949, it has been the focus of fascination by architects, photographers, students, and those seeking a place of worship, community, beauty and solace.
When the congregation sought to complement the sanctuary with an education building, they looked to Eliel’s son, Eero Saarinen. Eero was acclaimed for his exuberantly futuristic designs such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, Washington Dulles International Airport, and the TWA Flight Center at New York's JFK airport, now part of Terminal 5.
In contrast, the education building is a subdued yet lovely and joyful homage to his father’s masterpiece. It was completed in 1962 and houses a beautiful lounge, spacious education rooms, a sky-lit atrium and a gymnasium with a theater stage. The original furnishings include many iconic mid-century modern designs by Hans J. Wegner, Ray and Charles Eames and others.
The joined pair of buildings stands today as the only example of the father’s and son’s individual works combined. The people of Christ Church Lutheran invite you to enjoy this remarkable, serene and historic space. Experience our welcoming community at one of our worship services, concerts and exhibits, or architectural tours."
Gallery images © Jane Kathryn Kolles
Below is a screen capture from a segment not shown in the film. The church below – First Christian Church in Columbus, IN, designed both by Eliel and Eero and built in 1942, is stylistically, both inside and out, very similar to Christ Church Lutheran.