Look Up

I recently scanned nearly 2,000 of my travel photos from 35 mm slides.  Needless to say, I hadn’t seen many of them in decades.

I quickly realized that, as an amateur photographer and professional architect, I tend to take a lot of pictures that correlate with the AIA’s current public awareness campaign – Look Up.  I think in my case, I take these kinds of pictures because they aren’t the kind you see in guidebooks or history of architecture textbooks.  They do however provide a perspective that is just as important as the ‘money shot’ taken from afar – the perspective from street level.  This perspective has always intrigued me. As an added bonus, these shots are normally free of pesky pedestrians.

So I offer this perspective.  Maybe you’ve visited these buildings yourself and these shots may remind you of how it felt to be with the building as opposed to viewing the building.  There is something about how a building engages the sky.

Borromini’s Sant’Ivo
The Cathedral & Campanile in Florence 
Gaudi’s Casa Mila
Peter Behrens’ AEG Turbine Factory
A very dirty Cologne Cathedral
Centre Georges Pompidou – Rogers & Piano
FLW’s Kentuck Knob

FLW’s Pope-Leighey
FLW’s Robie House
Alexandria, Virginia
Stehli Silk Mill, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
St. Catherine of Siena Chapel, Estes Park, Colorado (during a snow storm)
Fonthill Castle (Mercer Museum), Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Portland Building by Michael Graves

It struck me how similar some of these shots were to one another, as they spanned over 20 years.  The stark contrast between Casa Mila and AEG, both with a tree framing the view.  The way both Kentuck Knob and Pope-Leighey have a punctuated roof to filter the view to the sky. The similarities between the churches and temples, as they all seem to carry the passerby ‘up’. While this is not a polished 90 second TV spot, perhaps it will inspire fellow travelers to take a moment to record how it felt to be with the building at ground level, and how that building engages the sky.