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The Committee on Design (COD) was founded to promote design excellence among members of the AIA, the broader design community, and the public at large, both nationally and internationally.


Announcement: 2020 COD Conferences

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the AIA Committee on Design leadership voted to postpone the domestic and international conferences to 2021. The new dates for the conferences are Denver, May 13 to 16, and Singapore, October 9 to 22.

International Air Travel: An Adventure Again. A First Hand Report With Musings About Saarinen

  • 1.  International Air Travel: An Adventure Again. A First Hand Report With Musings About Saarinen

    Posted 07-01-2020 16:29

    "The silver thread is broken, the golden bowl is shattered, the amphora of the fountain breaks, the bucket falls into the well" (Ecclesiastes 12:6)
    Whether one wants to understand the pandemic in biblical terms or just as a global event, it has shifted reality allowing perspectives and sensibilities not visible during business as usual, the previously dominant global model, in spite of the warnings. Global mobility has morphed into "stay at home". This article describes my recent international flight, its surreal aspects and the impacts of the pandemic on airports and their cities.  It is part of a series which tries to gauge the future of cities.


    When I approached Dulles International (code letters: IAD) it could have been 1962, the year the airport opened. In the year after opening the airport served 50,846 passengers. Just as back then, on this Saturday June 13, 2020, the parking lots were mostly empty, and curbspace on the departure deck was plentiful. Saarinen's now expanded building stood uncluttered, grand and majestic in the early afternoon sun, beautiful as on its first day.
    Dulles Airport 1962: designed for jets
    Except for the TWA terminal at JFK in New York, (also designed by Eero Saarinen), there is hardly an airport building that better expresses the aspirations, the glamour and the optimism of early commercial air-travel than the Dulles main building. Unlike BWI or many other airports which grew out of old airfields, Dulles was designed from the ground-up for jet-planes.

    In 1962 the sky was no longer the limit, in fact it had become the new attraction, even the moon seemed to be within reach. "Man's desire to conquer gravity" (Saarinen). Growth since then has gone beyond all projections. In 1966 the first annual million passengers had been reached and airport cities (aerotroplis) first emerged as an urban concept and then as more or less improvised clusters around the gateways of jet travel. The physical impact of airports on cities began to exceed that of train stations and replace passenger train stations even in larger US cities. Around Dulles a new landscape of hotels, office towers, and..
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    [Klaus] Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD
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