A few iPhone shots. First, a black and white shot of Beacon Street on rainy night on Beacon Hill. Despite the challenge of shooting a dark street punctuated by bright car and street lights, this hand-held iPhone shot turned out quite well indeed. I’m particularly fond of this photo, especially because it took some patience, despite the rain, to frame a passerby with an umbrella just right in the available light.
The Union Jack flies at half mast over City Hall Plaza as Boston mourns victims of the terrorist bombing at the Manchester Arena. A couple of quick iPhone shots a couple of days after the bombing. #iPhoneography #ManchesterBombing
A snow day in March. The Nor’easter that hit the east cost only dumped several inches of snow on Boston before becoming a wintry mix when I ventured out, camera in tow. The wind-whipped, freezing rain gradually turned to just plain old rain and made for a camera-soaking (good thing for weather-sealed equipment), and not exactly pleasant, afternoon stroll. It was a lot more fun being out during the snow day in February.
I manged to get a few decent shots, however. Unfortunately, the slush and soggy snow will freeze overnight.
I spent a sunny Sunday photographing the Government Service Center and a couple of nearby buildings in Boston’s Government Center area. I previously posted photos from this session featuring Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist masterpiece, the Government Service Center. This post features shots of the surrounding area.
Boston City Hall, designed by architects Gerhard Kallmann and Michael McKinnell, is one of the best known examples of Brutalist architecture in the United States. Completed in 1968, the new City Hall replaced old City Hall, “one of the first buildings in the French Second Empire Style to be built-in the United States and now one of the few that survive” (which I featured in a recent post).
And here are a few shots of the area around the Government Service Center, including the adjacent Edward Brooke Courthouse, designed in the late 1990s by the same firm that designed Boston City Hall more than thirty years earlier (now Kallmann, McKinnell & Wood).
The full set may be seen here, on Flickr.
I spent a sunny Sunday photographing the Government Service Center and a couple of surrounding buildings in Boston’s Government Center area. This post focuses on the Government Service Center. In part II, I’ll post some shots of the surrounding area.
Architect Paul Rudolph’s Government Service Center consists of two separate, but connected buildings: the Hurley Building and the Lindemann Mental Health Center. It’s the most misunderstood building in Boston. Many consider it (wrongly, IMHO) to be the ugliest building in Boston.
One of Rudolph’s masterpieces, Boston’s Government Services Center, with its distinctive “corduroy concrete,” ranks high among the best examples of Brutalist architecture in the United States (even eclipsing Boston City Hall). Designed and constructed a couple years after Rudolph’s Yale Art and Architecture Building tour de force, the Hurley/Lindemann building was never completed according to Rudolph’s original design and vision. Construction of this high rise portion was never realized.
Unfortunately, the Government Service Center has suffered from years of neglect. The northern corner of the building has long been fronted by a hideous chain-link fence enclosing a make shift parking lot in place of the landscaped park in the original design. Within the past five years, many external stairways and other means of access to terraces and other intriguing spaces have been blocked, closed off by (more, ugly) chain-link fences. This wikipedia photo gives you a glimpse of one such unique area, as does this Droid Hot Spot commercial from 6 years ago, posted below. I’ve kicked myself for years not photographing Rudolph’s Government Service Center when access to all the external spaces and stairways was still open (and when deterioration of the buildings was a bit less pronounced).
I’ve been defending Brutalist architecture for years, and attempting to convince fellow Bostonians of the importance and charms of Rudolph’s Government Services Center (typically to no avail). But, Brutalism is back, baby! Well, sorta. See this recent New York Times “Brutalism is Back” article, including:
Brutalism is undergoing something of a revival. Despite two generations of abuse (and perhaps a little because of it), an enthusiasm for Brutalist buildings beyond the febrile, narrow precincts of architecture criticism has begun to take hold. Preservationists clamor for their survival, historians laud their ethical origins and an independent public has found beauty in their rawness.
And a couple of years ago, the Boston Globe published this piece, The dream behind Boston’s forbidding Government Service Center including:
In recent years, appreciation for Rudolph’s work has rebounded, especially among young architects. His Yale building, after a fumbled reconstruction and decades of neglect, was magnificently restored in 2009. But his Government Service Center is now only a shadow of what he envisioned. The complex was conceived as a moving, celebratory place, but mistreatment has made it resemble a prison. Yards of wire fencing overzealously fence off walkway walls now deemed too low to protect pedestrians. Parked vehicles have eroded the surface of the beautiful plaza at Staniford and Merrimac.
The full set may be seen here, on Flickr. More photos of the Government Service Center may be seen here in this Flickr set by Kelviin, who also administers the Art and Architecture of Paul Rudolph group on Flickr.
A few (hand-held) late twilight and night shots from my soon to be retired Olympus Pen E-P3 (in favor of a just purchased Pen F). A walk home through Downtown Boston and Back Bay, stopping by Old City Hall,”one of the first buildings in the French Second Empire Style to be built-in the United States and now one of the few that survive.” Among the several statues in the courtyard is one of Ben Franklin, pictured in the photo below. It was the first portrait statue in Boston. In May, high winds toppled the statue off its pedestal, but, luckily, Ben escaped the ordeal without damage (although the same could not be said for the sidewalk below).
Boston’s Architectural Heritage Foundation just announced that they are putting their lease on Old City Hall on the market. Although sale of the lease, which the AHF has held since Old City Hall was renovated following construction and opening of new City Hall in 1968, would need approval by the City of Boston’s Planning and Development Agency, AHF “plans to use the proceeds to finish improvements to the building’s courtyard and create a new loan fund for historic preservation.”
I also took a few night shots of the urban park on Saint James Street in the Back Bay with the lighted waterfall sculpture and Japanese paper flowers and fish art in the trees.
The City of Boston contracted with luminARTZ and artist Anthony Bastic (who produced the Vivid Sydney Light Walk and Lights of Christmas projections in Australia) to project a 3-D light show onto the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, with music. Despite the rain, I watched while the Twelve Days of Christmas and the Nutcracker Suite filled Copley Square with music while visions of light danced on the library facade on Saturday, the first of four performance nights. I only had my iPhone but took a few decent shots, including the ones posted here.
More on this holiday show, titled “The Mayor’s Celebration of Lights,” in this Boston Globe article. According to the Globe:
Boston’s light show comes amid a United Nations proclamation declaring 2015 the International Year of Light. The UN is emphasizing the critical role light plays in people’s daily lives and the impact it has on the cutting edge of modern day science.
Happy Holidays #iPhoneography
I recently came across this old (2012) photo of a very foggy Boston night which I never got around to posting. Using a tripod, I shot this from the Massachusetts Ave Bridge looking across the Charles River to Beacon Hill. I decided this dark and foggy shot could see the light of day, as it were. Although the photo is not all that striking, the light illuminating the heavy, misty air, the partially shrouded buildings, and the nearly glowing Statehouse Dome provide interest and make this shot a keeper.
A couple of #iPhone shots of an intense, late July sky near sunset. Both taken atop Boston’s Beacon Hill, with the Massachusetts Statehouse in silhouette.
One final iPhone “blue hour” shot from this late July evening, taken further down Beacon Street across from the Boston Common.
A while back, the web-portfolio developer Pixpa approached me to do an interview for their blog (I used Pixpa to develop my photography website). I agreed and the interview was published in late June. They only publish these photographer or artist “in the spotlight” interviews once a month. Nice to get noticed, and it was fun to be interviewed. Pixpa is one of the leading photography and fine art website developers worldwide. You can read the interview here.