Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) is universally recognised as one of the masters of Modernist architecture. While the remarkable buildings he designed have been much studied, the story of how a young architect from a village in western Finland achieved such international prominence is little known. This new biography of Aalto is the first to offer a comprehensive and objective survey of his life, from growing up in the Finnish provinces to finding global acclaim, and also covers all his projects, from early work in Jyväskylä in the 1920s to Finlandia Hall, completed in Helsinki in 1971. John Stewart draws on Aalto’s archive, the recollections of former employees and contemporaneous publications to fully explore Aalto the architect rather than simply his architecture. For the first time, the Finn’s life is set in the context of the events that surrounded and shaped it. Stewart reflects on Aalto’s marriage to Aino, his key friendships, his participation in architectural competitions, working life in his first office and his continual financial difficulties. As Aalto’s career progresses, Stewart considers the patrons who were so important to him – the Gullichsens – and the founding of the furniture company Artek, Aalto’s professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1940s, his marriage to Elissa after Aino’s death, his greatest architectural achievements in the 1950s, and his growing fame and eventual vanity. This unique book seeks, above all, to understand what drove Aalto; the combination of talent and character traits that led to his extraordinary worldwide success.
The first biography of Alvar Aalto in more than 30 years
Presents previously unpublished material, including photographs and drawings
Features a complete checklist of Aalto's built and unbuilt projects