Tuesday, June 23, 2009


An interesting tower (above) made doubly interesting because it's back lit by diffused sunlight. If you were an architect, wouldn't it be fun to design structures for foggy places? You could make the case that all climates should have their own unique architecture. Tropical architecture would be a no-brainer, but imagine imagine buildings designed to look good in the snow, or under gloomy, overcast skies.

I do have some misgivings about this picture. If you put your thumb over the tower, the rest of the structure isn't that interesting.

I love stairs and the example above is one of the best I've ever seen. Here the stairs come in rolling, almost musical waves with a promise of profound revelation at the top.

The trouble is, though, that unless you're 12 years-old, long staircases are a chore to climb. Government buildings traditionally have long stairs to remind visitors how insignificant they are. What an odd message to send in a democracy where the people are supposed to be in charge.

I'd be curious to know what Ruskin would have thought of this (above) picture. I know he was against excessive decoration on cathedrals. Even if there's more than a touch of decadence here, relative to the austere, and probably more religiously inspiring cathedrals of an earlier time, I still find the shapes fascinating.

How do you like the high ceilings and wonderful light in this (above) English manor house? The doorway beside it is interesting too, though maybe over done. Doorways are powerful romantic and psychological symbols, and it seems odd to throw all that away in order to emphasize the meaningless space above the door.

A curse on the wretches who tore down beautiful buildings like his one (above) in the last century. I love structures like this, but I still can't help wondering why people spent so much time and money on the roof and upper floors. I mean, why didn't they put the biggest effort into the lower floors, which are more visible from the street?

Maybe the builders were attic enthusiasts. Maybe giant attics and roofs are cheap to build and provide more visual bang for the buck than lower floors. Maybe big attics serve as insulation and heat radiators.

Can you believe that buildings like this (above) were ever torn down?

I love the interlocking shapes of wood at the intersections of beams in Asian temples and old bridges. You see it in modern Western architecture too sometimes, and the effect is always welcome.


Sean Wiig said...

Why is it that I never get to see things like that in person? Those buildings are breathtaking! Ordinary concrete buildings are a waste of space! These are awesmoe pictures.

Adam T said...

That first picture with the tower is the Johnson Wax Company's headquarters. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The tower was originally supposed to be labs for the company's research scientists but for some reason it was dubbed unfit for that purpose. Interesting thing is the translucent exterior isn't traditional glass it's tubes of Pyrex. The same material as most test tubes and beakers.

joel n. said...

I always love your architecture posts, even if it's "only" "random thoughts". where did you get these fantastic pictures? somewhere on the web?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Adam: So that's it! Thanks!

Joel: They're from a new book on the history of architectural photography that I got from the library a few weeks ago. Don't know the title.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere an architect well-versed in fog should team with a textile designer, who would develop exterior fogwear - one piece utilitarian jumpsuits that perfectly blend in with the hue and intensity of fog, leaving only the wearers' faces exposed. This would yield sundry apparent floating visages in the swirling mists, a visual treat for certain.

Zoran Taylor said...

I love this post. Architecture is one of my absolute favorite things. Frank Gehry's redesign of the Art Gallery of Ontario (I live in Toronto) was quite impressive, and their collection is great too. Check it out if you're ever roaming these parts, and also keep an eye out, if only for a laugh, for "the crystal" - an egregious architectural mistake.

Zoran Taylor said...


"Yeah, let's just stick this huge, jagged, shiny metal thing into the side of an old brick building! How could it NOT work?"

thomas said...

I.m pretty sure the photo of the Johnson Wax building is by Hiroshi Sugimoto. He explains the reason for the blurriness of the photo.


Nick Sweet said...

Is the second up from the bottom a worlds fair pavillion?

Lester Hunt said...

I've been to the Johnson Wax building and, believe me, the tower is not the only cool part. You can find a 3-D model of it here: