Early Life Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was born February 3, 1898, in the small village of Kurotane in west central Finland, where his father was a land surveyor. Sometime before 1907, the family moved to Jyvaskyla, the administrative/trading center for the densely forested lake region of central Finland. Aalto went through secondary school there, graduating in 1916; he served on the "White" side in the civil war that followed the declaration of Finnish independence in the wake of the Russian Revolution. He first showed his interest in and bent for architecture by his involvement in the design and construction of his parents' summer home in Alajarvi (1918). He studied architecture at the Helsinki Polytechnic Institute, graduating in 1921. There were two major influences from those years that would play a significant role in shaping his future career. One influence was Armas Lindgren, a former partner of Eliel Saarinen and, with Saarinen, a leader of the Finnish National Romantic movement. Inspired by Finland's medieval stone churches and Karelian loghouses, that movement expressed itself architecturally in a monumental rough-hewn stone style. The other influence on Aalto was the architectural historian Gustaf Nystrom, Finland's leading exponent of Greek architecture and champion of the classical model as the appropriate style for the newly independent nation.