Alvar Aalto is recognized today as one of the great masters of modern architecture. During his long career, the work of the Aalto office embraced almost all key public institutions – town halls, theatres, churches, libraries and universities – as well as standardized housing and private homes.
Soon after Alvar Aalto had established his own office in 1923, he started to work with architect Aino Marsio. They were married in 1924. Together Alvar and Aino developed a joint practice. After Aino Marsio-Aalto’s death in 1949, architect Elissa Mäkiniemi started to work at the Aalto office. Elissa and Alvar were married in 1952. With Elissa, Alvar Aalto continued to practice architecture jointly. Alvar Aalto’s career can be divided into the co-practice period with Aino Marsio-Aalto (1924–1949) and the co-practice period with Elissa Aalto (1949–1976). After Alvar Aalto’s death in 1976, Elissa Aalto became the director of the Aalto office and the chairperson of Artek.
The Aaltos’ architecture can be seen distinctively Finnish. It is marked by a warm humanity and strong individuality. The buildings derive their special aesthetic character from their dynamic relationship with their special surroundings, their human scale, superbly executed details, unique treatment of materials and ingenious use of lighting. However, the Aaltos’ architecture is not the exclusive property of Finland: it forms part of a common cultural heritage of European and worldwide significance.
Through the innovations in form and line that were born in his furniture designs, the Aalto’s name has also become important in the history of design. In fact, the Aaltos first achieved fame in Continental Europe as furniture designers, and only later as architects.
1898 born at Kuortane on February 3th
1916 matriculation from Jyväskylä Lyceum
1921 diploma of architecture at the Institute of Technology, Helsinki
1923–27 private architectural office in Jyväskylä
1924 started to work with Aino Marsio
1924 married to Aino Marsio (Aino Marsio-Aalto)
1925 daughter Johanna “Hanni” Aalto was born
1928 son Hamilkar Aalto was born
1927–33 private architectural office in Turku
1933–94 private architectural office in Helsinki
1936 founded Artek together with Aino Marsio-Aalto, Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl
1943–58 Chairman of the Association of Finnish Architects (Honory Member since 1958)
1946–48 Professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA
1949 Aino Marsio-Aalto died at the age of 54
1949 started to work with Elsa Kaisa “Elissa” Mäkiniemi
1952 married to Elissa Mäkiniemi (Elissa Aalto)
1955– Member of the Finnish Academy (Emeritus Member since 1968)
1963–68 President of the Finnish Academy
1976 died in Helsinki on May 11th