A fair, complete with Ferris wheel, alongside the river in Portland Oregon is just the thing to post on the first day of the Spring Semester back at St. Lawrence University. As I trudged through snow to get down to business, the memories of warm sabbatical nights last year were inescapable.
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 St. Lawrence has its share of modern buildings (including my own), it’s the old part of campus (buildings like Piskor and Sykes Halls) that best captures the Harry Potter vibe of small liberal arts colleges in the Northeast.
My favorite cities are those with borders artificially constrained by water (like San Francisco, Hong Kong, or Manhattan), usually leading to towering structures and high density. San Francisco’s situation was different for a long time; a subset of NIMBY residents (alongside an array of other economic factors) meant that this grid of smaller buildings persists, in spite of housing shortages and corresponding high housing prices. As this slowly changes and the city begins to warm to the idea of new development, this uniform grid of little buildings might someday shift.
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.
Coit Tower, on its leafy green (i.e. unlit at night) hillside, makes for an odd break in the structure of the more northerly parts of San Francisco. I particularly like this short of the juxtaposition of the Tower’s aesthetic beauty with the utilitarian structures of Treasure Island in the foreground.