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Korab Collection: Archive of an Architectural Photographer

Collection Strengths & Sample Images

The Korab Collection is amazing for its breadth and depth - covering many different countries and topics ranging from flowers to city night life; but offering intense coverage of specific topics and locations such as the barns of the Midwest, the architecture of Eero Saarinen, or the roof-scapes of Rome. Unlike many notable architectural photographers of the 20th century, Korab regularly used and was especially skilled in color photography which appears throughout the materials. The following areas are strengths of the collection, but we invite you to explore the finding aid for the collection to discover more.

Eero Saarinen Book Project | Modern Masterpieces | International Subjects | Midwestern United States

Eero Saarinen Book Project, 2005-2008

The Eero Saarinen Book Project photographs are a selection by Korab of over 700 photographs documenting 19 projects designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen (1910-1961). Included are airports, churches, corporate headquarters, embassies, private residences, university facilities, and the monumental arch of St. Louis. Korab captured their development in the 1950s and 1960s from model and site plan through construction to finished exteriors and interiors.

Korab generously donated these images to the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division in 2007. Digitized reproductions of all the slides, transparencies, and black-and-white negatives are available in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Additional views of Saarinen works are in the collection, but the majority are not digitized.

Modern Masterpieces

Korab was especially known for iconic images of modernist architectural masterpieces, in both black and white and color. The list below shows notable designers and firms that are well-represented in the archive, but is by no means a comprehensive list. To help researchers find famous designers and their works each entry in the online finding aid gives the project title, architect, and geographical location of the project. There are not single headings to cover all variations of a firm or principal designer's career, so when searching try variations on firm names, alternative names for famous structures, as well as names of commissioners of buildings and gardens.

Becket, Welton, 1902-1969
Birkerts, Gunnar, 1925-2017
Caudill, Rowlett, Scott (CRS)
Dinkeloo, John G. (John Gerard), 1918-1981
Dow, Alden B., 1904-1983
Harley Ellington Pierce & Yee Associates (HEPY, HED, HECS)
Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
Johnson, Philip, 1906-2005
Kahn, Albert, 1869-1942
Kessler, William H. (William Henry), 1924-2002
Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969
Neumann/Smith/Rossen/Greager and Associates
O’Dell/Hewlett & Luchenbach, Inc. (OHL)

Pei, I. M. (Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners), 1917-2019
Roche, Kevin, 1922-2019
Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961
Saarinen, Eliel, 1873-1950
Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM)
Smith, Hinchman & Grylls (SHG)
Tarapata MacMahon Associates (TMP Associates)
Weese, Harry, 1915-1998
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959
Yamasaki, Minoru, 1912-1986
Zeidler Roberts Partnership

International Subjects

Korab traveled extensively and captured significant architecture and landscapes around the world including France, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mexico, and China to name a few. When known, place names are included in the folder entries of the finding aid. For international projects the country is listed, and can be an effective search term. (For locations in the United States, state names are more effective.)

Korab was living in Italy when a devastating flood hit Florence in 1966. He covered many aspects of the flood, both destruction during and the attempts in the following days to save historic artworks and treasures. Additionally, the archive also holds his survey of Rome roof-scapes, the Villa at Gamberai and other views especially in Tuscany.

Nitrate negatives from his trek across Europe as a young war-time refugee (ca. 1945), and additional images on nitrate film, taken before 1955, are included in the archive. All nitrate film (about 650 frames) has been scanned in entirety at a medium resolution, displayed as computer generated contact sheets (an example is in the gallery below). High resolution scans from this film can be purchased (see Rights and Reproductions for details). For safety reasons, nitrate negatives are not served.

Midwest and Beyond

The Midwestern United States work focuses heavily on two states, Indiana and Michigan. Korab started working in Indiana to photograph Saarinen's designs for a residence commissioned by the community business leader and patron of architecture, J. Irwin Miller. For several decades afterwards, Korab continued to photograph the architectural gems concentrated in the town of Columbus, Indiana. Korab visits produced photographs for most of the schools and public buildings commissioned by the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program. In Michigan he balanced commissions to document modernist structures with personal interest in city and rural views, historic neighborhoods, and natural life in his home state. This led to extensive surveys of Detroit, Kalamazoo, and Cranbrook, as well as vernacular architecture throughout the country.

A portion of the finding aid is organized roughly by State rather than Projects, with folders representing 39 U.S. states. Additionally, a range of folders organized by general topics (which starts at Folder F1900), includes categories that span locations, such as “Barns.”