New York/Salt Shed

I can remember back in the 90s when it seemed that New York had become an architectural backwater. I was living in Amsterdam, and a Dutch planner friend, about to leave for a trip to New York, asked what interesting new buildings to look for. I was momentarily silent — nothing immediately came to mind. I ended up recommending a few contextually sensitive projects that were admirable if not exactly innovative.

Innovation is not everything, in architecture or in other fields, but the lack of it in the 90s suggested a city treading water creatively. That sense of stasis is long gone for a variety of complex reasons — the post 9/11 vitality of the city is an area rich for exploration by journalists and social scientists. I am neither of those. But I am a photographer of the urban landscape, and there is much to observe in the swift rapids of the present.

Travel wide 4×5 camera with film holder — © Brian Rose

Architecture can be dramatic or prosaic, showy or utilitarian, but usually not both simultaneously. Let me tell you about a salt shed in lower Manhattan on Canal Street. I had just gotten a new camera to play with — a hand holdable 4×5 camera designed by a couple of guys in Chicago funded by a Kickstarter campaign. As small as a DSLR and half as light. I decided to take it out for a spin to see how it would work for me photographing a building. My wife works in the Hudson Square area, the old printing district west of Soho, and she suggested I take a look at the new Spring Street salt shed designed by Dattner Architects, a New York based architectural firm.

It is just that. A shed meant for storing the stuff used to melt ice and snow on the streets of the city. But instead of the usual metallic tent-like structure, there is, here, a multi-facetted shard of concrete looking very much like a salt crystal, or at least that’s what two different sanitation workers passing by told me while I was taking pictures. And it has walls three feet thick. They loved it.

Here it is:

© Brian Rose

© Brian Rose

© Brian Rose

© Brian Rose

© Brian Rose



6 thoughts on “New York/Salt Shed


    Hi Brian, know you were out in the city for the weather the last few days…I am savoring these Native American Summer days and don’t even mind the wind and rain to come. Hope you all are well and managing your sanity in this endlessly silly or (scary) season of political chicanery.

  2. John Kalish

    A striking new building (for what it is), and, apparently, excellent photographs!

  3. admin Post author

    Can you believe, after all this time, that the Travelwide camera finally arrived? First impression is that it will be great for me. It’s super lightweight, and since it’s basically one piece of sturdy plastic (plus lens), it can be stashed in a bag without too much concern about breaking anything. Since most of my pictures will be landscapes, or architecture, I will just set the focus at infinity and the aperture at f16. I’ve also bought some ISO 400 film, which will allow for somewhat faster shutter speeds. I’ll probably get a small lightweight tripod for low light situations. But the idea is to hand hold the camera when the light is good.

  4. admin Post author

    Ah yes, these warm indigenous people summer days are enjoyable, but will certainly fade as Thanksgiving approaches. The silly season is just beginning, however, and it promises to be one of the silliest, and scariest, ever. For now, I am focused on getting my World Trade Center book done. Am finalizing the design and getting estimates for printing and binding. Will probably do a Kickstarter campaign in January or February, and have the book out by next Fall, or earlier.

  5. Ben Syverson

    Brian, these are fantastic! It’s seriously thrilling for me to see these photos. Thank you for posting this!

  6. admin Post author

    Hoping to make this my go to camera for street and landscape work. Have bought some 400 ISO film to get a couple more stops out of it — faster shutter speed. Need a smaller light-weight tripod for low light. Thanks Ben, for sticking with it despite the setbacks along the way.

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