Eero Saarinen designed some of the most iconic American buildings of the 20th century. The arch in St. Louis? That was him. The TWA terminal at JFK airport? That was him too. And it wasn’t just buildings. Saarinen also designed the furniture that would define futurism of the 1960s, like the tables in Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
But one aspect of Saarinen’s life is largely skipped over in public memory, and that’s his time working for the precursor to the CIA during World War II. Based on documents I received yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed last year, Saarinen’s work for the agency was invaluable.
Founded in 1942, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) conducted espionage and sabotage during World War II before it would be named the CIA. And some unlikely public figures worked for it. There’s even an entire book about chef Julia Child’s work for the OSS.
Saarinen’s work for the spy agency mostly involved designing models of buildings and weapons that had yet to be built. He even worked on designs for the original war room in the White House. […]