As Promised, Part 2 of the TWA terminal restoration photographs.
“Saarinen was a shape-giver,” Tor recalls. “He was always searching for the right form for the building involved…and sometimes the structural aspects of his work did not easily fall into logical engineering solutions. You had to kind of argue your way into it; so there was always a certain element of tension, but it was the kind of tension that brought out the possibility of creative solutions and compromises.”
While the skylights were an example of the creative solutions developed for the building, Tor recalls that there were certain times where Saarinen’s “form-giving” overrode engineering considerations. “As a designer, Saarinen was very honest about his vision for a building. [So I found that] the way [to work] with him was to tell him that the following design features have such-and-such implications and then leave the decision to him,” notes Tor. “One had to be honest both ways. He had to be honest with me and I had to be honest with him.”
Today, Tor is an associate professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture. He co-teaches a course called Advanced Building Systems, which he describes as an “introduction to the real world.” The studio course gives students a defined project scope, including the building’s footprint, function, height, etc., and asks them to develop, up to a certain level, the technological aspects of the building, i.e. the structure, air-handling systems, and curtainwall. Tor explains that the course is meant to teach architects to think along with the consulting engineer, a skill that he has certainly mastered.
During a project with Kahn, Tor came to the defense of his craft after Kahn, in a moment of exasperation at being told what he could or could not do, had declared "you engineers are all the same; you are like sausage cutters!" "I said to him, 'Lou, we are not sausage cutters, we are more like the male dancers in a classical ballet. Sometimes we jump and soar, and other times we stand there firmly on the stage and when we see the ballerina take the big leap we catch her in mid-air, we turn her around, and we make sure that she lands gracefully and doesn’t fall on her face.'" And as you look at the TWA Terminal you can see exactly what he means.
--From The National Building Museum
Take a look at Part 1.