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Model Airport: 1958

Model Airport: 1958

Circa 1958. "Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Va. Model in construction. Eero Saarinen, architect." Self-portrait by Balthazar Korab. View full size.

Just a shadow of its future self

As originally constructed, the terminal building was just under half the length it was designed to reach, which was accomplished in 1996. At its initial length of 600 feet, I found the design not quite worthy of all the celebratory praise of the day. What a difference the extension of 640 feet made!

Still a beautiful example of its time, and one of Saarinen's best.


I have used a lot of 4x5 Polaroid over the years and that sure looks like evidence. I may even have a (very expired) partial box of it in with my 4x5 stuff.

Architectural models are very expensive indeed. And that's only a small section of a much larger model. The entire model at that scale would have been huge, and easily tens of thousands of dollars.

Balthazar Korab, 1926-2013

He died only this year after an outstanding 60-year career as an architectural photographer. His obituary in the New York Times.

What a piece of work

That detail takes some real craftsmanship and I do wonder what became of it when finished. I get a kick out of the photographer showing us his lighting/reflector set-up.


Looks like the photographer has been using a Polaroid film back with his view camera. The discarded paper film frames scattered across the floor are more clues.

I worked with a similar Polaroid back on my old Speed Graphic back in the '70s. It could produce 4x5 "instant" prints together with a negative, or just a print. It was a handy tool for getting lighting correct before committing a sheet of real 4x5 film.

(If I'm correct, I think I see the Polaroid film back lying atop the boxes at extreme left, albeit an earlier model than the one I used.)

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