Alvar Aalto considered moving to the United States after World War II. The dapper, charming Finn loved America and, despite his mythic status in Finland now, felt unappreciated in his homeland (his boat, which he had designed and built, was named Nemo Propheta in Patria). He did, however, do two stints as a visiting professor at MIT in the 1940s. It was for that Cambridge campus that he created Baker House, one of his most important works and the protagonist of this handsome book.
Aalto and America is a collection of essays about the MIT dorm, the Finn's two other major buildings here—the Finnish Pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair and a library for Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon—and his relationship with the New World. The Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard and a conference room at the United Nations are also covered. The 17 contributors include some well-known Aalto scholars, including Juhani Pallasmaa, Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, and the late Colin St. John Wilson. This beautifully produced and handsomely illustrated volume addresses topics such as materials, rationalism, and housing traditions.