The work of Finnish architect Alvar Aalto has long been a source of inspiration for me. His buildings have a comfortable, humane quality to them because he paid close attention to the little details that made the ordinary into something special. If nothing else, this alone is a lesson worth learning well.
To date, I have only been able to visit two of his buildings in person - the library at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon and the Nordic House in Reykjavik, Iceland. One day I hope to visit the town hall and community center he designed in the town of Säynätsalo in central Finland, his vacation home on the island of Muuratsalo and the university buildings in nearby Jyväskylä. For now, I’ll take pleasure in this is excellent short documentary Säynätsalo and Muuratsalo.
For additional reading on the unique perspective Aalto brought to human-centered architectural design, consider reading this thoughtful essay by Sarah Williams Goldhagen entitled “Ultraviolet: Alvar Aalto’s Embodied Rationalism.”