Enter the Linear Cage

In comparison with the pathways between buildings in Northern New York (mostly shielded against the elements), I’m a bit disoriented by the semi-exposed stairwells and walkways of California. The mixture of features I associate with being inside (like the door with full glass window) and those I associate with being outside (like the tubular steel guard rails) makes for a juxtaposition.

Enter the Linear Cage

This Is the Laser

The laboratories of physical scientists across the planet have pulsed laser systems like this one, and many look quite similar: a collection of squat boxes covering optics, electronics, and beampaths. Above or below the surface of the table are additional boxes of electronics driving the lasers and detectors. This particular system is special to me for two reasons: (1) most modern laser tables don’t have rad wood grain paneling, and (2) this was the instrument I used during my sabbatical at Berkeley Lab last spring. Lots of good data emerged from its photomultiplier tube.

This Is the Laser

The Scary Door

With a campus as huge and old as Berkeley’s, it’s natural to expect that there would be some odd corners here and there. This particular back door, hiding in an out-of-the-way location at the back of Bowles Hall (and surrounded by creepy fences and trees) seems like the perfect place to hold the meetings of a secret society.

The Scary Door

Stadium Perspective

I had the chance to wander UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium when it was nearly empty one Saturday afternoon. The texture of the weathered concrete is so rough and irregular compared with the smooth, almost-glossy metal of the stands themselves. When free of student mass, it makes for a lovely study in perspective.

Stadium Perspective

Modern Texture

UC Berkeley’s Energy Biosciences Building looks pretty awesome at sunset and has a great staircase. More of that surreal, futuristic staircase is on display in today’s photo. What I really like about this image, though, is the sense of texture that it gives. The polished, precast concrete floor, the wood ceiling, the thick glass windows, the brushed steel of the elevator: every material is used in a way that best emphasizes its physical properties. The mixture of matte and gloss, rough and smooth, makes it at once a sophisticated and welcoming space.

Modern Texture

Artificial Photosynthesis

I’ve shown you the inside of the Energy Biosciences Building before, but I’m particularly happy with the way this shot captures the grandeur of all of this wood, steel, concrete, and glass. The sun casts the best shadows and refractory patterns through it all. (Well, maybe not THROUGH the concrete–but on it, anyway.)

Artificial Photosynthesis

Cyberdojo

The University of British Columbia’s campus has the odd quality that many modern campuses do. The vast majority of the buildings are post-war additions, and carry the strong characteristics and visions of each of their respective architects. This particular building caught my eye for the way it integrates a Japanese-style bridge, pool, and island into the courtyard of what could otherwise be a glossy but unremarkable structure.

The combination makes me think of the entrance to some sort of futuristic dojo in a cyberpunk novel. No wonder William Gibson calls Vancouver home.

Cyberdojo

Underhall

UCB’s Tolman Hall has a surprising number of urban legends surrounding its uniquely 1960’s appearance. The building is overcrowded and soon to be renovated, but I have to admit that it has a certain charm when the evening light bounces through concrete surfaces of its breezeway. The blues and greens of the shadowed campus and the golden sunset colors are appealing, to be sure, but it’s really the textures that I find so fascinating. The combination of precast and cast-in-place concrete means that there are at least four different textures here, each one reflecting and scattering light in its own, unique way.

Underhall

Scripps Sky

A recent trip to San Diego gave me a chance to wander around the gorgeous La Jolla Shores neighborhood, home of UC San Diego and the Scripps institute. The salty air on the beach really speeds the degradation of structures; when you take that in combination with the minimalist concrete structures favored by UCSD, you can get some really dystopian looks. When you combine this with the traditionally “idyllic” beach, it makes for a disturbing contrast.

Scripps Sky