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Ralph T. Walker Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: JMB
Date: Jun 1978

Biographical History

Ralph Thomas Walker (1889-1973) was an American architect. He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and studied with Rhode Island architect Howard K. Hilton. In 1916 he went to work for the New York firm of McKenzie, Voorhees and Gmelin, where he remained for the rest of his career. In 1955 he led a group of architects sent to Berlin to participate in planning for the International Building Exhibition (IBA) to be held in 1957; as part of this effort, he and his team proposed building a Congress Hall, to "promote international understanding through the advancement of culture, education and science." The Benjamin Franklin Foundation, a joint German-American organization with Walker as its chairman, was created to oversee the planning and construction of the Berlin Congress Hall, completed in 1957. The Foundation went on to spend another 13 years in reconstruction projects in and around Berlin.

Most of Walker's buildings are in New York City, including the AT&T building on Broadway, the iconic One Wall Street (originally the Irving Trust Building), and the Barclay-Vesey Building (later known as the Verizon Building, severely damaged during the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ralph T. Walker Papers spans nearly sixty years, almost the entire career of the American architect. The collection is divided into 16 series.

Notes contains Walker's notes on a variety of topics. Writings contains rough drafts, speeches, articles, essays, poetry, and pamphlets. Published material relates to Walker and/or his work and includes clippings, pamphlets, and miscellaneous unrelated published material.

Five Scrapbooks contain material relating to the American Institute of Architects, the Berlin Congress Hall, and other jobs. Sketches, some of which are oversize, includes pieces relating to specific jobs (MIT Library, Barclay-Vesey Building, Petroleum Building, Philadelphia Opera House) and to various topics (imaginary buildings, Rotch Scholarship, West Indies, World's Fairs). Photographs are of various subjects, both personal and professional, and include numerous glass slides used for teaching. News clippings also cover a range of subjects such as Robert Moses, city planning, and food. Alphabetical and Chronological files are simply that -- files on various subjects arranged alphabetically or chronologically, respectively.

Berlin files and Trinidad files relate to Walker's work in those two locations; the former concerns the Berlin Congress Hall, part of the International Building Exhibition in 1957, with which Walker was involved both as architect and as chairman of the Benjamin Franklin Foundation. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Library files and International Union of Architects files contain assorted material relating to Walker's ongoing relationship with those two organizations.

Literature and T.S. Eliot contain an assortment of non-architecture-related items, including French literature and poetry, literary criticism, articles, and other miscellanea. A small amount of Miscellaneous material completes the collection.

Arrangement of the Collection

Writings and Published material are subdivided alphabetically by type, then arranged alphabetically by title. Except for the Chronological files, all other material is arranged alphabetically within its series.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Walker, Ralph, 1889-1973 -- Archives.


Architects -- United States.
Architectural design.
Architectural drawing -- United States -- 20th century.
Architecture -- American.
Architecture -- United States -- 20th century.
Architecture -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.
Notes (documents)
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Ralph T. Walker Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Ralph Walker, Mrs. Ralph Walker.

Table of Contents



Published material




News clippings

Alphabetical files

Chronological files

Berlin files

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Library files

Trinidad files

International Union of Architects files


T.S. Eliot