Architectural Abstracts in Black and White

If there’s one subject that never fails, it’s architecture. Twenty-four hours a day, it looks different. To the patient and observant eye, even the most seemingly bland box of a building can be transformed into a study of volume and texture with the careful observation and application of light.

Steel girders wrapping a facade for protection during renovation become a study of patterns and of contrasting textures – the rigid linearity and modernity of the I-beams highlights in strong relief the delicate brickwork and moldings behind it, and the strong shadows cast by the evening sun bring out geometric repetition.

Facade, Girders
Facade, Girders

The white crane above the girder wall catches the late afternoon sun, a thrusting line that divides the blank sky with dynamic movement that creates multiple negative spaces instead of unbalancing the image with empty information.

Miller & Long Crane
Miller & Long Crane

This image would be even better in color as there are patches of blue in the stairwell that repeat in a subtle pattern, drawing your eye into and up the stairs, but even in black-and-white, the repeated lines of the ascending structure draw your eye through the image.

Glass Staircase, GW
Glass Staircase, GW

I like the vertiginous vertical lines of the apartment tower as you look straight up it. Believe it or not this was shot hand-held, no tripod, no level, just very careful eyeballing and steady hands.

Columbia Plaza Tower
Columbia Plaza Tower

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a magnificent slab of white marble. Even the outside spaces are all grand and awe-inspiring, very much in keeping with the goal of presenting and preserving the performing arts. Here the roofline is a dramatic act in itself, like a set piece in an opera playing on the stage within. Wagner couldn’t have composed it better.

Kennedy Center Corner
Kennedy Center Corner

Another vertigo-inducing shot looking straight up at what I call the ships’ prow building. The facade is mostly flat, but this arced wedge bursts forth from the surface like a ship’s prow cutting the waves.

Ship's Prow Building, H Street
Ship’s Prow Building, H Street

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