Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Architecture of the Space Age! Dulles Airport
Located 10 minutes away from my house, is Dulles International Airport. The main terminal's design reflects the spirit space age, the Atomic Era, and the Eames style that was so typical of the late 1950s and early 1960s. For years, I never really appreciated the architecture or even noticed. All I seemed to care about was getting to my plane or getting my luggage. As I began a trip out west to Colorado earlier this year, I walked towards the security/TSA area and I looked around. The high, glass windows and the sculpted gray concrete walls made me feel like I stepped back in time. I can just imagine all the vintage passengers, decked out in their best. The ladies with their white day gloves and pill box hats elegantly walking to their gate. The men, wearing trench coats and hats, clutching a leather briefcase, making their way to New York for their important business meeting.
Here is a little history of the airport:
Due to the expanding population in the Washington, DC region after the end of the second war, Congress passed the “Washington Airport Act of 1950.” The act paved the way for federal funding and support of the construction of a second airport in the area. The main airport, located within sight of the Nation's capital, was opened in 1941. It was called “Washington National Airport.” However, since 1998, it has been 'officially' titled the “Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport” (but locals still refer to it as “National”).
After the initial proposals fell through, the current airport site was eventually selected by then-President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958. As a result, the town of Willard was torn down and construction began. Near my office, there is Willard Road. This is road cuts through a commercial area with lots of businesses and fast food places. The actual town has been long gone and the road''s moniker is the only reminder of its existence.
The civil engineering firm of Ammann and Whitney was selected as the lead contractor for the airport's construction. The main terminal was designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen. Saarinen created a swooping ceiling design that invoked images of flight and grace. The airport was named “Dulles International Airport” in honor of the late John Foster Dulles. Dulles was Eisenhower's Secretary of State from 1953 to 1959 (Dulles' death). In 1962, the airport was dedicated by President Kennedy on November 17, 1962. Its original name changed in 1984 to “Washington Dulles International Airport.”
So, if you ever fly into Dulles, try to take in the architecture and style of the main terminal. It is very unique and very vintage!