Tag Archives: building

1930s Architecture at Its Best?

There was a building at the bottom of the dam at Grand Coulee that was part of the dam infrastructure.  Looking down on this building, it seemed so in keeping with a certain generation of architecture.  Concrete buildings were in vogue at that time and they were very functional and lacking in much in the way of aesthetics.  Given that this was part of the work generation program of the Great Depression, maybe the focus was on function rather than form.  I wonder what someone would do with such a requirement if they were commissioned to design such a building today.

Space Age Visitor Center

There is a visitor center for the Grand Coulee dam.  Sadly, as with a lot of similar things, it was closed while I was there due to the virus.  While I couldn’t go in, I was rather taken with the structure itself.  I’m not sure when it was built but it has a bit of a 70s space age feel about it.  When in the park lower down the hill, it looks a little like a flying saucer has landed above you.  I bet it looks interesting when lit up at night.

Building a Tower Crane

Tower cranes are ubiquitous in big cities.  The only way to construct tall buildings, there are the sign of a prosperous city when there are lots of them.  They can be a nuisance when you are taking photos of a skyline of course since they interrupt the flow of a cityscape.  You seen them all the time but you don’t often get to see how one is assembled.  When we were watching the tower construction across from our building in Chicago, we got to see the cranes being put together.

The first thing that is needed is a big crane!  Got to have a crane to make a crane!  The base was put in place and then the cab was lifted into place.  From this, the elements of both booms were lifted and attached.  Then the counterbalance weights could be added along with the machinery to do the lifting work.  It was fun to watch it all go together and to see the guys walking around on the structure once it was in place including all of the bracing elements.  Once the crane is complete, there is a sleeve section that allows the inner section to be slide up and a new section to be inserted.

Two cranes were built for this project.  They were both within the footprint of the building so it grew around them and they grew above it.  There was never terribly much of the crane exposed above the building so it was well supported.  One of the crane operators on this project used to take his camera up.  He had a great selection of images from up there with all sorts of things going on a round him and some incredibly variable weather.  I will have to see whether those images are still available online.

Sun Times Demolition

When we moved to Chicago, our apartment overlooked the Chicago Sun-Times building on Wabash Avenue alongside the Chicago River.  This plot was sold off for development with a large tower being built on its site.  The construction that followed will be another post but this one relates to the demolition process.  The view from our window provided a great view of the tearing down of the old building.  It didn’t hurt that much of it was done during the Chicago winter, but I could watch from the comfort of our living room.

The building came down pretty quickly.  Crews were using jack hammers to drill out the concrete flooring of each level and the machines that these were mounted on could also pull over the wall sections once cutting torches had taken out key elements of them.  There was plenty of cutting going on with torches taken out structure and piping.  This didn’t always go smoothly with more than one occasion when the cutting set fire to something and the fire department came to deal with it.  A lot of water from the hoses would pour out of the spaces in the walls and, given the low temperatures, lots of icicles would result.

There weren’t too many floors in the building with the lowest levels being where the printing presses had once been.  The whole thing came down quickly.  It wasn’t an attractive structure so we weren’t so sad to see it go.  However, since it was low, it gave us a good view across the river.  The new building would be 92 floors tall and was going to take out a chunk of our view but such is the way of things when you live downtown in a city that is constantly evolving.

Legislative Building at Night

Continuing the theme of casting back into the past for shots of things that compensate for not going anywhere anymore, this one isn’t too long ago.  Our visit to Victoria in the run up to Christmas involved staying in a hotel alongside the harbor.  We had a view from our hotel room across to the legislative building which is nicely illuminated at night – not just for Christmas but all the time.  Here is the shot from the hotel window!

Every City Has One of These Buildings

Old streets in cities were sometimes at odd angles.  This resulted in someone squeezing a building in to the available space.  New Year is most famous with the Flatiron Building which appeared here.  Oakland also had a building which I covered here.  Vancouver has a similar building.  I guess, if your city is of a certain vintage, you may well have something similar.

How Has Seattle Changed?

I have taken a lot of photos of Seattle since we moved here.  The city has a lot of development which shows itself clearly in both the downtown area and the South Lake Union area.  The downtown core is not massively different but the spread out from the center is noticeable, as is the change in stadiums.  My first visit to Seattle was in 1992.  Things were very different then.  I recently took a look at some photos I scanned from that trip including a view from the top of the Space Needle.  I also have some shots from the mid 2000s in the mix.

The following shots are combinations of shots from 92 and current shots along with some taken from one of our trips here in around 2005 when I had a work visit that we extended to include some time in the city.  The city already had some big towers in 92 but there has been a lot of development since then.  South Lake Union is a different story.  During my first visit, there was not a lot going on in the area.  Now things are heavily in the area with Amazon having led the investment but the Gates Foundation also having a big site.  Things have really changed a lot!

Crystal Palace II

This one is for some of the Brits who read this blog.  The pictures are a bit sketchy as they were taken from a moving car (I was not driving)!  I was in Dallas for work and noticed this building from a distance.  I figured I would try and get some pictures as we drove by.  The building is apparently a modern construction but, to my mind, it appears to be a direct reproduction of the original Crystal Palace.  Obviously not a reproduction after it burnt down but it does look just like it.  Anyone from Texas – Gary, I am looking at you – that knows anything about this building?

Building an America’s Cup Challenger

Ineos is a name I hadn’t heard until recently.  They took over the Sky cycling team and that was the first time I became aware of them.  I guess that sporting achievements are something that their management are quite focused on because, while waiting to catch the ferry at Portsmouth, I got a look at the building in these photos.  It is their America’s Cup challenger facility.  The building looks pretty impressive and I hope that the boat that they come up with is similarly so.  It would be good to see the cup make its way to the UK after all this time.

UW Campus

The cherry blossoms were the reason for us visiting the campus of the University of Washington as I covered in a previous post.  Since we were there and it was a lovely day, we also figured a bit more of the campus was worth a look.  We strolled around for a while and checked out the different styles of building that make up the university.

There is a wide variety of building types.  The oldest buildings are generally pretty nice looking.  Some of the most recent ones are also architecturally interesting.  There was some Art Deco to see and then there is a bleaker phase.  UW is a bit like other campuses I have seen.  There is a phase of concrete and plain brick.  This style was very much of its time but sadly, I don’t find it has stood the test of time too well.  The concrete particularly is harsh with the style having been to avoid making any effort to finish the surface.  They just poured at different times and the joins are left to see.  It probably seemed like a good idea at the time but I don’t care for it.  I’m sure in architecture classes they still discuss its merits but it’s not for me.