Alumni in Focus
Learning from Finland St. Louis, Missouri, is home to the Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen’s greatest design, the soaring Gateway Arch. In concert with this inspirational achievement, Washington University in St. Louis, one of the premier North American universities, and its nationally ranked Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design,
as a Fulbright Fellow. Ahleman relates, “Not only was I profortunate to receive a Fulbright gram of Grant, I received it the year of the international triennial Alvar Aalto Symposium. I semesters for its soaked in the lectures by preeminent students, with locaAalto scholars and consumed tours that tions in Buenos Aires, would have been otherwise difficult to Argentina; Seoul, South Koarrange. I also had the good fortune rea; Tijuana, Mexico; Shanghai, to make the acquaintance of Peter China; and Barcelona, Spain – and MacKeith who would become my naturally in Helsinki and Finland. These adopted mentor for the next year. My semester programs are four month sesFulbright experience was critical to my sions, with students in full-time resisubsequent Master of Architecture studdence in these vital centers of world deies at Harvard and my understanding of has a long sign activity. In Helsinki, a semester-long architecture's place between culture and tradition of spring program was first organized in the nature.” architectural eduspring of 2001; the leadership of archiPhilip Tidwell studied first in St. Loucational exchange tects Juhani Pallasmaa and Jouni Kaipia is with me and Juhani Pallasmaa in 2004, with the city of Helsinki was instrumental in shaping the program and then came to Finland as a Fulbright and with Finland, through from the outset, and currently archiFellow in 2006, enrolling in HUT’s excelvisiting faculty, semester protects Matti Rautiola, Pentti Kareoja, lent Wood Program. Tidwell summarizes grams in Finland, and a twentySirkka-Liisa Jetsonen and Kimmo the influence of his time in St. Louis and year history of Fulbright Scholars to Friman guide the semester. This spring his time in Finland: Finland from the School. In 1999, when is now the 11th year the Graduate School “The distance between St. Louis and I arrived in St. Louis after has resided in Helsinki, Helsinki is more than a few thousand ten years of living, working closely with miles I suppose, but anyone passing working, and teachFinnish architects, through the School of Architecture at Since 2001, ing in Finland, the historians, designers Washington University in the past ten over 150 students have School was an ideal and engineers in a years might be forgiven for assuming place to further the full curriculum of otherwise. With students, professors and come to Helsinki from architectural and design, history, and even office furniture arriving or returnSt. Louis and cultural relationtechnology, along ing each semester from Finland, it's hard ships between the with office visits, exto imagine that anyone inhabiting Givens been transformed as two nations. cursions (north, east Hall during these years could leave withSince the 1950s, and west) and guest out some curiosity about this small counarchitects. notable Finnish lectures. Since 2001, try in the North. But of course that curiarchitects have reguover 150 students osity takes hold more strongly in some larly served as visiting guest professors have come to Helsinki from St. Louis and students than it does in others, and for in the Graduate School, among them been transformed as architects. me it quickly morphed from a simple fasAulis Blomstedt, Kirmo Mikkola, These relationships also have been cination to a subject of academic inquiry Reima Pietilä, Esa Laaksonen, Juha embodied by the sucfor which it seemed Jääskeläinen, Jouni Kaipia, Juha cession of Fulbright only natural to find The excellence of Ilonen, and Mikko Heikkinen. Many Scholars in architecmy way to Otaniemi. more Finnish architects and designture who have come When I arrived as Finnish architecture, the ers have visited the Graduate School as to Finland from a Fulbrighter some relationship of design to lecturers and critics. Internationally reWashington Unitwo years later to nowned architect and educator Juhani versity in St. Louis. nature, climate and light, and study wood archiPallasmaa has served most recently as Drawn to Finland tecture and design the deep cultural values of I felt almost unfairly the Graduate School’s Ruth and Norman through his heritage Moore Visiting Professor. Not surprisingand Washington Finnish society have all had a at ease in my new ly, the University’s Kemper Art Museum University instruchome, reuniting with lasting effect. was a principal American venue in 2009 tors, Thomas Ahlefriends who were for the exhibition, Eero Saarinen: Shapman, now a practitiohappy to introduce ing the Future, organized in part by the ner and educator in Chicago, studied at me to the city and to make me part of Museum of Finnish Architecture. the then Helsinki University of Technoltheir lives within it. After such a welcome At the same time, the Graduate School ogy as a Fulbright Scholar in 1989-90; I introduction it's not surprising that I still of Architecture & Urban Design has a rich met Thomas there during my own year find myself with so many opportunities 12
The Fulbright Center News is a biannual newsletter published by the Fulbright Center in Finland.