words and photos by: Scot Zimmerman
I usually feature and discuss residential architecture and design, but this week I am showcasing office and commercial buildings and the return of modernism. Just as in the mid-century, modernism appeared not only in the design of homes, but also in the commercial and institutional buildings of the time.
Since the 1950s, many more materials are available to implement these designs. Advances have made flat roofs much more reliable, and coated and specialty glass reduce heat gain and loss so that even with today’s more stringent requirements for energy performance, there is more glass.
The forms also invite creativity with shapes, textures, and materials that make not only the exteriors exciting, but the spaces inside, as well. As a photographer, my job is to completely absorb what I see and to show it in the photographs. I have truly been struck with the range of design I have been photographing.
There are some contradictions when photographing architecture. It is important to see and appreciate the scale and massing of the components of the building, and for that there needs to be an overall that doesn’t crop off the key elements. The overall photos, though, can’t easily capture the materials and the tension from the juxtaposition of shapes and materials, so there needs to be medium shots. And thirdly, details capture solutions and finishes that are amazing and beautiful. Sometimes when I’m photographing, I just turn my head and see something that is almost unbelievable. In summary, not one shot gets it all and to appreciate a building one should see more, but here’s a sampling.
Opening image: Modern office buildings like eBay at the Point of Mountain maximize new products like coated glass and architectural metals, and the signage and lighting become an important aspect of the design. (Architecture by the Smith Group JJR, San Francisco.)