Photographing landscapes and structures (and being the son of civil engineers), I’ve become a bit of an architecture fanboy. The trend towards building with shipping containers, whether a do-it-yourself effort or a pre-fab corporate approach, seems particularly exciting. This weekend, I encountered this in-construction house built from three forty-foot intermodal containers. The owners added sloped roof, a permanent foundation, and windows and doors outside, but they liked the shipping container aesthetic and plan to keep all of the original paint and labeling outside. I find that look charmingly authentic.
Inside, however, there’s little hint of the structure’s more exotic origins. Though, like the exterior, the interior is still under construction, there’s a straightforward home inside the three long shipping containers worth of space.
This photograph is a double-case of finding interesting details by looking away from the obvious. On one hand, this subtler image was captured opposite an intense sunset over San Francisco. The color palette is heavy with pastels, but accented with a few harsh reds from Oakland in the distance. In the image itself, there’s a tiny building under the right-hand span of the bridge. Seeing something so (let’s say) adorably sized next to something so dominant and enormous makes for a charming contrast.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, all was hopeful and “excellent.” When the Bay Bridge opened in 1936, human ingenuity could solve any problem, bridges replaced ferries, cars replaced horses, aircraft would soon replace trains. Now we’re orphans of the future, living in a world when “modernity” is in the past, and epic symbols of the era and its architecture are quickly becoming relics. Though I have no nostalgia for much of the social/cultural mores of the time period, I do find it fascinating to look upon the structures built “for the future” from the standpoint of that future. Perhaps it makes me wonder, just a bit, what we build for our own future now.
The glorious Beaux-Arts Classical Revival style of the Hearst Memorial Mining Building stands out among the sometimes-utilitarian University of California, Berkeley. That the building was renovated in the past ten years (but in a way that leaves this lovely lobby unmolested) thrills me. From a crassly photographic perspective, however, I’m most in love with the golden bricks in lovely geometric patterns, and the complementary color of the ironwork.
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.
Today is a rare double-post, featuring my favorite structure on Berkeley’s campus: the Hearst Memorial Mining Building. This beaux-arts-style hall was finished in the early 20th century, and I find it particularly notable for two reasons (beyond just being aesthetically pleasing):
1. The interior atrium reminds me of the Bradbury building, and I get a fantastic cyberpunky (see Blade Runner)/steampunky (see Steamboy) tingle every time I step through the doors.
2. The building was updated in a seismic retrofit from 1998-2003, yet is still just as gorgeous as ever. This is a case of a putting a lot of effort into saving a building that is worth saving, and doing it in a way that doesn’t obliterate the elements of the building that were so appealing to begin with.
Just pass those enormous, varnished wood doors is this stunning atrium. Today, I’m showing only a small part of it. Come Friday, I’ll offer a wider view of the space.
This is another photograph from a lab in the Charles Harris Group at UC Berkeley. I previously photographed this effusion cell apparatus from an orthogonal orientation, but I also found this shot at its long axis intriguing. The sense of complexity and purpose, but also the sense of aesthetic minimalism, always attracts me to physics apparatuses.
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.)
Berkeley isn’t particularly urban, and, as such, doesn’t have much of a skyline to speak of. Still, its taller buildings offer an interesting contrast in construction techniques and styles. I like the reflection that can be parsed out from the sum of the windows.