North Country temperatures abruptly rose from 20ºF to nearly 60ºF before suddenly dropping to -20ºF—all in under 36 hours. The result was rain that completely melted almost all snow, followed by freezing rain that deposited a layer of ice, followed by a new 12″ of snow to replace what came before.
In the midst of that chaos, I visited the Grasse River through the center of Canton to see it rising above its banks and jamming the shores with ice.
Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, a massive X-ray laser sourced from a building-sized particle accelerator, was undergoing upgrades while I visited. Construction in the area added an mundane veneer to the superscience happening inside.
Though not the building’s official name, I think “snakeskin” is the correct way to describe the tile pattern on the side of this new addition to Portland’s Pearl District.
The first “real” snowfalls of the winter have arrived in the North Country, and I can’t think of a better time to look back on the never-snow geometries of Berkeley. The architectural possibilities expand when structures will never have to bear the load of a late-winter storm and stairs will never have to be scraped free of ice and snow. I think the design is particularly well-expressed in the boxes-on-boxes-on-boxes design of this building. The best detail, to me, is the sunlight passing in one side and out the other of the corner window on the first floor.
Every corner of Berkeley brings some new quirk. I passed this little stair/alleyway dozens of times during Sunday morning coffee runs. The tall pines and receding buildings struck me as quintessentially West Coast.
The Molecular Foundry’s enormous overhang looks alien up close, but the scale of the structure is really apparent with the lighting beneath the gravity-challenging bulk.