Architect Eero Saarinen at home in his study w. furniture designed by him, 1958.
Caption from LIFE: Saarinen's study is equipped with three varieties of Saarinen furniture: a blue "womb" chair, a plywood chair (next to the bookcase) and a white pedestal chair. In the left foreground is a newly designed aluminum base for a lower pedestal chair and on the wall in the rear are trial sketches for more chairs.Frank Scherscehl—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Architect Eero Saarinen at home in his study w. furniture designed by him, 1958.
Womb Chair by Eero Saarinen, 1953
Saarinen House in Detroit, 1958.
Fountain in front of new Law Library designed by Eerro Saarinen, 1961.
The TWA terminal, designed by Eero Saarinen, 1961.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Arch designed by Eero Saarinen, 1965.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Arch designed by Eero Saarinen, 1965.
Walled-in glass bank designed by Eero Saarinen, 1967.
Interior of North Christian Church designed by Eero Saarinen, 1967.
Crowds out side of the North Christian Church designed by Eero Saarinen, 1967.
Caption from LIFE: Saarinen's study is equipped with three varieties of Saarinen furniture: a blue "womb" chair, a plyw
... VIEW MORE

Frank Scherscehl—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
1 of 10

See Eero Saarinen's Career in Photos

Aug 20, 2015

We sit in his chairs, road-trip to his iconic landmarks and even worship in his churches. Eero Saarinen, born in Finland and educated in the U.S., was one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. Since his death at age 51 from a brain tumor, he has been outlived—as is the fate of all successful architects—by the work he created, neofuturistic designs that have become a permanent fixture of our landscape.

The son of the renowned Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, the junior Saarinen grew up in his father’s workroom, and the two entered into a partnership after Eero completed his studies at the Yale School of Architecture. His work ranged from the grand—the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Arch in St. Louis—to the everyday, as with the chairs he designed both on his own and with Charles Eames.

Here, on what would have been his 105th birthday, is a selection of Saarinen's work photographed for LIFE Magazine—from the in-demand, design-oriented furniture to the landmarks that define American cities. Though his aesthetic was eclectic, it can be summed up in four words, as LIFE put it following Saarinen’s death in 1961: “poetic inventiveness, monumental simplicity.”

Eero Saarinen at the Goethe Festival, 1949. W. Eugene Smith—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images 

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated how old Eero Saarinen would be on Aug. 20, 2015. He was born on Aug. 20, 1910. Aug 20, 2015 is his 105th birthday.

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.