Balthazar Korab, 1926-2013

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January 16, 2013
Balthazar Korab—whose work and career we profiled in Dwell's Dec/Jan 2013 issuepassed away this week in Troy, Michigan, his hometown of many years. Korab was born in Hungary, escaped Budapest at the onset of the World War II, studied architecture at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, met an American woman on holiday, then moved to Detroit once they were married. There, he interviewed with and was hired on the spot(!) by Eero Saarinen, one of the most influential modernist architects working the U.S. during the mid-century. He started at Saarinen & Associates as a designer and quickly switched to a new position as the firm's official photographer. In summation, much of the reason we are so familiar with Saarinen's architecture is that someone so talented was around to document it. Click through for more shots taken through Korab's lens, including some lesser-known (but extraordinarily valuable) modernist Midwestern buildings.
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  William Kessler, Kessler House (Grosse Pointe Park, MI), 1959."Some of Korab's earliest and most consistent commissions outside of the Saarinen office came from other Michigan-based architects, such as Minoru Yamasaki and William Kessler, bother of whom developed innovative design practices employing unique material assemblies and expressive formal strategies." —John Comazzi, Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography

    William Kessler, Kessler House (Grosse Pointe Park, MI), 1959.

    "Some of Korab's earliest and most consistent commissions outside of the Saarinen office came from other Michigan-based architects, such as Minoru Yamasaki and William Kessler, bother of whom developed innovative design practices employing unique material assemblies and expressive formal strategies." —John Comazzi, Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography

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  Minoru Yamasaki, McGregor Memorial Conference Center at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI), 1960.

    Minoru Yamasaki, McGregor Memorial Conference Center at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI), 1960.

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  John Portman, Renaissance Center (Detroit, MI), 1979.

    John Portman, Renaissance Center (Detroit, MI), 1979.

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  Korab, quoted in the recently published monograph by John Comazzi for Princeton Architectural Press, found that Eero Saarinen and Associates’ Deere and Company Headquarters from 1966 “was the most challenging of Saarinen’s buildings to photograph because the darkness and texture of the Cor-Ten steel creates difficult light and shadow conditions. For me it was a project of discovery—I had to discover the architecture over time.”

    Korab, quoted in the recently published monograph by John Comazzi for Princeton Architectural Press, found that Eero Saarinen and Associates’ Deere and Company Headquarters from 1966 “was the most challenging of Saarinen’s buildings to photograph because the darkness and texture of the Cor-Ten steel creates difficult light and shadow conditions. For me it was a project of discovery—I had to discover the architecture over time.”

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  For more on Korab's life and work, read our story from Dec/Jan 2013. And we highly recommend Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography by John Comazzi (now available from Princeton Architectural Press) for even more little-known photographs, including dramatic shots of Saarinen's IBM manufacturing facility, the Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn, Mies van der Rohe's Lakeshore Drive Apartments in Chicago, Bacardi Office Building in Mexico City, and much more.

    For more on Korab's life and work, read our story from Dec/Jan 2013. And we highly recommend Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography by John Comazzi (now available from Princeton Architectural Press) for even more little-known photographs, including dramatic shots of Saarinen's IBM manufacturing facility, the Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn, Mies van der Rohe's Lakeshore Drive Apartments in Chicago, Bacardi Office Building in Mexico City, and much more.

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