Category Archives: Architecture

New York/Wall


Heinersdorf, Germany 1987 — from The Lost Border, The Landscape of the Iron Curtain
— © Brian Rose

The Dept. of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends on issuing a solicitation in electronic format on or about March 6, 2017 for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico.

 

Unsurprisingly, there are engineering firms and architects who are interested. One small architectural firm explains their willingness to participate:

To put it directly: we have never said that we are designing a wall. We are responding to the government’s solicitation for a new model of border infrastructure which we hope will provide a corrective to the privileging of iconicity, spectacle, and security at the border. (full text here)

Jake Matatyaou and Kyle Hovenkotter, JuneJuly, March 3, 2017
management@junejuly.co

 

New York/Atlantic City

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Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

Valerie McMorris writes in “I Was A Trump Taj Mahal Cocktail Waitress:”

Now, 26 years later, I look back and reflect on my personal journey and Trump’s promise of greatness. I see now that the opulence and glamour were all just bait. His rhetoric was supported by majestic surroundings, but they were financed through junk bonds. The profits that Donald Trump enjoyed were not reinvested in the building or the employees. They were shipped back up to the shore to Wall Street. That casino money flowed right out of Atlantic City and into the coffers of the billionaire hedge fund owners. 

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Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

It was Monday around noon, almost 60 degrees at the end of November, and a scattering of people strolled the boardwalk. As I stepped down to the beach across from the Trump Taj Mahal I encountered a half dozen stray cats lounging about as if they owned the place. And in a sense they did. The Boardwalk Cats Project feeds and tends the 150 or so spayed and neutered cats. Atlantic City may be bankrupt along with many of its casinos, but the cats are doing fine.

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Trump Taj Mahal — © Brian Rose

A wall with a discreet no trespassing sign blocks passage to a stairway into the now abandoned Trump realm.

New York/Atlantic City

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Revel, Atlantic City — © Brian Riose

On the north end of the Boardwalk just beyond the abandoned Trump Taj Mahal, Governor Chris Christie’s tax payer supported mega project.

Washington Post:

Two years later, the Revel is shuttered — wiping out thousands of jobs amid an economic implosion of the gambling industry here. Rather than serve as a shining example of Christie’s economic stewardship, Revel now stands as a 57-story example of failure in a city that has bedeviled New Jersey governors for decades.

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Revel, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

There is a party, everyone is there.
Everyone will leave at exactly the same time.
Its hard to imagine that nothing at all
Could be so exciting, and so much fun.

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.
Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.

— Talking Heads

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Revel, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

Parking garage and drifting sand.

WTC/Advance Copies

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This is it folks. Advance copies of WTC have arrived from the printer, and — what can I say — the book is stunning. The original design for the cover had the letters WTC dissolving into a close-up of the skin of one of the Twin Towers, symbolic of their disappearance and ghostly presence. But we decided to go with silver reflective letters that almost float above the matte background. The effect is stronger, more iconic. It is simple, elegant, and I think, powerful.

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The spine and endpapers are a cool blue, taken from wedge of sky seen between the Twin Towers in one of the images. The photographs and text blocks are a consistent scale with white borders throughout except for the bleed images that break up the different sections. This is a book to be read — both the writing and the imagery.

I am very proud of WTC. It is the third in a trilogy of books about New York City. It is the culmination of a lifetime of observing the urban landscape and architecture, the center stage for human endeavor. It is a story both personal and shared — this great city and the tragedy that befell it 15 years ago. It is an attempt to honor and commemorate even in this moment of public vulgarity and corrosive discourse.

The official release of WTC is September 8th. I will be providing more information about the launch later. In the meantime, the book can be pre-ordered on my website.

New York/WTC

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S
taten Island Ferry, 1977 — © Brian Rose

I was a student in 1977, a newcomer to the city I had long dreamed of making my own. I walked all around lower Manhattan with a Nikkormat 35mm camera, a brilliantly stripped down camera made by Nikon, shooting color slide film. I was discovering New York, and at the same time, exploring the potential of color photography, which was still in its infancy.

On a trip across the Staten Island Ferry I caught the scene above — a brief interaction — a high-heeled woman and a man in a suit — like a film still. I shot two frames quickly, similar to each other, this one with the Twin Towers framed in a window echoed by the vertical elements of the ferry, the gap of sky, the yellow pole,

This photograph, and a number of others from the ’70s, introduce my book, WTC, a 40 year visual history of New York in which the Twin Towers — their destruction — and the rebuilding — play a central role. It is a personal narrative set against a historical backdrop of epic scale. It is a commemoration, a reflection, and a tribute to New Yorkers and all who carry a piece of this great city with them.

Please help make this book a reality by supporting my Kickstarter campaign.

New York/”Freedom Tower”

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Paul Avenue, The Bronx — © Brian Rose

Whatever happened to the Freedom Tower? That is what former Governor George Partaki called One World Trade Center when it was still an architectural concept. And if you wander through the crowds of tourists downtown, you will still hear people refer to David Child’s 1,776 foot tall skyscraper as the Freedom Tower. The Port Authority, however, abandoned that name years ago, and few New Yorkers seem inclined to use it.

One section of my forthcoming book WTC is comprised of vernacular images of the Twin Towers — posters, murals,and graffiti. And there are books and photographs for sale in the street, many of which graphically show the destruction of the Trade Center. It has been 15 years, but helped by constant visual reminders, the Twin Towers remain fixed in the mind’s eye. Images of One World Trade, however, are harder to find.

One World Trade — or Freedom Tower — was envisioned by some as a patriotic gesture, not just real estate. Some might argue that in New York City real estate and patriotism go hand in hand. Whatever the case, One World Trade Center has only slowly begun to achieve the iconic status of its progenitors, the Twin Towers. Maybe it never will. So, I was stopped in my tracks yesterday while walking through the Bronx. There on the ground was a pizza box with One World Trade and an enormous American flag printed in red white and blue. The Freedom Tower lives…perhaps.

And then in Brooklyn — there it is again —  standing tall in support of Bernie.

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North 3rd Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn — © Brian Rose

Please help make WTC possible by supporting my Kickstarter campaign.

New York/WTC

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Proposed cover of WTC with silver/blue foil lettering — © Brian Rose

An update on my forthcoming book WTC, the completion of my New York trilogy:

This has been the most difficult book I’ve worked on. Spanning five decades, different bodies of work, different formats — 4×5 film, 35mm slides, digital. It a slice of history, both personal and public. And while the book pivots on September 11th, it is not a book about that event per se . It attempts, rather, to embody the nature of New York City; to locate the city in our shared  cultural consciousness. It is a story told not so much through my interactions with people, but through my perception of the city as architecture, street, and as a grand stage for human endeavor.

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Jersey City, 1977 — © Brian Rose

Text is integral to the book, and I’ve worked very hard to make it descriptive and poetic. The narrative  is essentially chronological, but it takes various twists and turns. Some may find these discursive elements confusing, but to me they are what makes the book conceptually more interesting and challenging. There is a cinematic logic to the flow of the narrative.

In a few weeks I will be launching a Kickstarter campaign, and it is critical that I raise a significant percentage of the production costs. This will be the third book working with Bill Diodato of Golden Section Publishing. As before, I’m self distributing. Let me tell you, doing this is scary as hell. But I know it will be a success. I hope you will be there to help make WTC a reality.

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Norfolk Street, 2013 — © Brian Rose

New York/Street Views

In the previous post I compared two images taken on the corner of the Bowery and East 4th Street made in 1977 and 1980. Now, 35 years later, I am still hanging around the neighborhood. I’ve lived overseas, of course, and have hardly been sitting on a stoop passively watching the world go by, but this part of New York remains my base of operations.

It is a dramatically changed place to be sure — for better or worse. I said to someone yesterday, that the impetus for everything I’ve done as a photographer springs from that moment I arrived in New York on a train in 1977, the day of the blackout, the summer of the serial killer Son of Sam, the year the Yankees won the World Series and the Bronx was burning. I ended up here in this neighborhood.

A few contemporary street views:

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Cooper Square at East 7th Street — © Brian Rose

Cooper Square in flux. A picture taken just after the wreath laying in honor of Peter Cooper, the founder of Cooper Union.

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The New Museum on the Bowery — © Brian Rose

A mashup of buildings, boxes, snow, and trash — a midwinter medley.

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Chrystie Street between Houston and Stanton — © Brian Rose

More architectural wonders arrive in the neighborhood. Ian Schrager’s hotel, 215 Chrystie — forcibly wedged into the urban fabric — designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron under construction around the corner from my studio.

New York/Ocean of Images

I visited Ocean of Images at the Museum of Modern Art with some trepidation – for me, any foray into the museum is a challenge given the mobs of tourists and the pervasive sense that we are all there on a sort of obligatory pilgrimage. It’s been that way for a long time, so nothing new about that.

As a working artist myself, I am of two minds about going to museum survey shows that present contemporary work. On the one hand, I want to know what is going on, or what is perceived as representing the zeitgeist. On the other hand, I want to protect and cultivate my own process of working and seeing, which sometimes requires keeping blinders in place, staying focused on one’s own path. Knowing the risks, I usually go.

DIS. A Positive Ambiguity (beard, lectern, teleprompter, wind machine, confidence). 2015

Ocean of Images is the latest installment of the photography department’s New Photography series, which attempts to target the most interesting or innovative work of the present. Although the curators assert that their selection for the current show was driven by the work of the artists rather than fitting into some preconceived idea – “post-internet,” e.g. – let me just say, it has been observed by others, that very little in the show consists of what might be called recognizable photography. Actually, there are plenty of pieces that utilize photography in a fairly direct way, but when they do, they are displayed as components of installations. The whole exhibition is itself a kind of installation of installations. A simulacrum of an exhibition, if you will.

I lasted about five minutes in there. My ability to think was overwhelmed by a loud humming. Like a lizard’s brain. Or the sound of an ocean of images roaring from a conch shell. For a brief moment I entertained the notion that I was hopelessly out of step, and that I hated installations, even though, truth be told, I am presently working on a large installation piece making use of photographs from my World Trade Center project.

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Splitting by Gordon Matta-Clark

Anyway, I wandered into another gallery, this one an exhibition called Endless House about the concept of “house” using drawings, photographs, models, and films, and I was enthralled by all of it. I watched, mesmerized for ten minutes, Gordon Matta-Clark’s grainy super-8 film documentation of his piece Splitting, in which he physically cuts a house in two with power tools and his own sweaty brawn.

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Vacation House for Terrorists by Thomas Schotte

And I was momentarily thrown for a loop by a drawing by Thomas Schütte of a glassy modernist house entitled Vacation House for Terrorists, which sent a shiver through me as I contemplated the dissonance between the bourgeois comforts of modernism and the destructive violence of terrorism, and the idea that terrorists might want or desire a vacation house. There was also an immersive and disorienting photo environment by Annett Zinsmeister, a repeating window pattern of a highrise housing project that could be walked in, and on.

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Virtual Interior by Annett Zinsmeister

And then I saw the Jackson Pollock exhibition, which is spectacular, and I felt all right again. Art can be exciting, groundbreaking, thought provoking, moving, even beautiful.

Back to work.

New York/Happy New Year!

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One World Trade Center (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

A final punctuation mark for the end of the year, and for my forthcoming book WTC. This was taken with my new Travelwide 4×5 camera. It doesn’t have movements, but it is feather light and can be handheld — though this was made on a tripod.

It’s been a tumultuous year in our household with any number of highs and lows. But the new year is looking bright as it approaches. Bring it on!

New York/Reality on Steroids

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TWA Terminal, photograph by Ezra Stoller

A lot has been written in recent years about the pernicious effect of Photoshop on fashion photography and photojournalism. In fashion the discussion has focused on body types and the digital air brushing of unwanted (presumably unsightly) details. In photojournalism, controversy abounds, and the contest held by World Press Photo has instituted a code of ethics with specific restrictions on manipulation and captioning. Reuters recently announced that it was requiring all its photographers to submit jpegs instead of RAW image files because the latter, essentially digital negatives, offer greater opportunity to manipulate the images.

“As eyewitness accounts of events covered by dedicated and responsible journalists, Reuters Pictures must reflect reality. While we aim for photography of the highest aesthetic quality, our goal is not to artistically interpret the news.”

Mmm. Kind of calls into question the entire profession, if you ask me. I’m not sure what the difference is between highest aesthetic quality and artistically interpreting the news. Whatever the case, it is clear that we have a drastically changed photographic landscape where fine art photographers are encouraged to construct and manipulate images, while photojournalists are reprimanded for touching even a single pixel. Meanwhile, documentarists operate in a hybrid zone, often placing themselves squarely in the middle of the visual exploration of place or situation, sometimes manipulating reality to better express “truth.”

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Stahl House, photograph by Julius Shulman

Which brings me to architectural photography, a small niche in the professional photography world, but overlapping with those who generally photograph the built environment — certainly my area of concern. Architectural photography has almost always been about idealization, certainly going back to Ezra Stoller and Julius Shulman whose black and white distillations of modern architecture defined the aesthetic. There was lots of staging of people and objects, and time of day and weather were not left to chance.

Staging, however, has been joined by digital manipulation, which is not just common, it has become de rigueur. Clients routinely instruct photographers to remove undesired objects, wires, appendages, background distractions, you name it. I had a client a few years ago who was unhappy with the quality of the stucco work on his building and he told me to “Photoshop the hell out of it” to make it look more like the rendering. The image became reality on steroids.

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El Centro building, Chicago, Illinois
Air conditioning units edited out above, an undoctored photo below.

Blair Kamin, the esteemed architectural critic for the Chicago Tribune recently called into question the awarding of an architectural prize given to a building based, primarily, on the submission of photographs seen by the jury. It seems that large, visually distracting, air handling units on the roof had been removed from the pictures. The result was the depiction of a building that expressed the architects intentions, but not exactly the reality on the ground.

The fact is, when it comes to images, there is almost no architectural equivalent to photojournalism. Architects hire photographers, the images are manipulated as desired, and then the architects submit the pictures to magazines and contests, and show them to prospective clients. No one in this sequence of events ever suggests that there is a context to be considered outside this closed loop.

eloftsElofts, David Baker Architects, Emeryville, California — © Brian Rose
Gritty industrial neighborhood.

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Crescent Cove, David Baker Architects, San Francisco, California — © Brian Rose
Elevated highway adjacent to the project.

Different architects have different perspectives, of course, and different aesthetic intentions. One client who I have worked for many times, David Baker, based in San Francisco, designs his buildings to integrate, or create a dialogue with, the urban fabric. Even if the architectural vocabulary takes on modernist forms that contrast with the surroundings, the tension thus produced is actively addressed. He has given me a free hand to find images of his projects that show that relationship, even when it is jarring or uncomfortable. Many architects, however, prefer to see their buildings purely as abstract art objects, and choose images that tend to edit out the real world. The architectural press generally goes along regardless of the degree of fiction put forward.

That’s not to say there isn’t a legitimate place for photographs that express the pure design elements of architecture. We’ve all seen — or even made ourselves — beautiful images that are reductive compositions, that express the geometry and formal elements of architecture, intentionally leaving out the extraneous details of the prosaic world beyond. That is a kind of reality, as well.

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Salt Shed, New York, NY — © Brian Rose
Photoshop out the wires and foreground signs? Or not?

But I think things have gone too far, and for too long. Aside from a handful of newspaper critics, and a few independent writers, most of the architectural press is about commercial promotion. Digitally enhanced photographs and hyper-real computer renderings are an intrinsic part of that food chain. We all have to pay the bills. But as a photographer — and an artist concerned with the landscape as I find it — God (or is it the devil?) is in the details of a messy world.

New York/Metamorphosis

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Holiday Price Cut! 

Metamorphosis is available for $50 through the holidays. The quintessential gift book about New York City — a stunning, and perhaps, sobering look at the change that has swept over Manhattan in recent years. Desolate streets of the former meat market that now bustle with shoppers and tourists.

Jeremiah Moss writes in his vivid and classic introduction:

Those of us who remember, who dream that gorgeously decaying world as it existed right up to the end of the last century, might sometimes wonder if we were imagining it. The shells remain, but the guts have all gone. Meat on hooks, libertines in leather, sex-shifters, artists, poets, the indescribable stink of it all, that mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful (to crib e.e. cummings) underbelly of the old New York—was it all a collective hallucination? Was it ever real? The bewildering change happened in a blink. Thankfully, Brian Rose was there, in reality, with his camera. In Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District he gives us the stunning evidence to prove that the old world wasn’t just a dream.

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.

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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:

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© Brian Rose

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© Brian Rose

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© Brian Rose

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© Brian Rose

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© Brian Rose

 

 

New York/WTC

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Behind the Colgate clock, Jersey City, New Jersey (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

As some of you know, I’ve been working on a book about the World Trade Center for some time. Just before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I came to the realization that I had in my archive a remarkable series of pictures — made at different times in different formats — that focused on the Twin Towers as a presence ( and absence) on the New York skyline. It was too late to produce a book in conjunction with the anniversary, but I began putting together a dummy based on what I had. And at the same time I continued to make photographs that showed the emergence of the new Trade Center, specifically One WTC, now completed, which stands as tall as the former Twin Towers.

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Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

None of my Twin Towers photographs were ever primarily about the buildings themselves, but rather they were urban landscapes that included the towers as architectural signposts. As the new tower of One WTC rose to fill the hole in the sky left by the destruction of 9/11, I chose to treat it the same way, as part of something, as opposed to an object all by itself. Nevertheless, I did not feel that I had one singular image (or a few) that adequately described the new tower as a prominent architectural expression.

So, when the weather broke earlier in the week, soaring into the 50s, I dashed out with my 4×5 view camera and spent a day stalking One WTC from various vantage points in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Jersey City. Three days later, I’m still a bit sore from the exertion, but it was a great day, and I’m pleased with what I came up with.

There remain many unanswered questions about One WTC. Does it command the skyline as powerfully as the Twin Towers did? Does the design make the kind of iconic statement that many wanted from it? What does it mean to people across the political spectrum — some still insist on calling it “Freedom Tower.” And was it necessary to build it at all? My book will not settle any controversies about the new building, but ending the narrative with several strong images of the tower seemed a necessity in bringing the story around full circle.

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Fulton Street (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

There was a time during the 20th century when the skyline of lower Manhattan had an almost romantic storybook aspect. It was defined by a number of thin towers with spires like the neo-gothic Woolworth Building from 1913 and later, the Art Deco styled Cities Service Building. The first significant disruption to the stalagmite look of lower Manhattan was the Chase Manhattan Bank building, a modernist slab uncomfortably inserted among its svelte neighbors. The building itself, arguably, is one of the best early modernist office towers in Manhattan, but it began a trend of ever bulkier boxes that eventually obscured many of Manhattan’s most iconic skyscrapers.

Nevertheless, when the Twin Towers went up in 1974 they dominated the skyline in almost every direction. When I did my pictures of lower Manhattan in the early 80s they were ubiquitous, poking up and between other buildings, visible from a million different vantage points. It helped, of course, that there were two of them, and the vertical pin striping of the skin — the vulnerable exo-skeletons of the towers — seemed always to lead the eye upward.

One World Trade Center, despite its height, seems lost in the crowd much of the time. And while the Twin Towers often visually lined up with the erratic street grid of downtown Manhattan, the new tower seems rarely to do so. One exception, is Fulton Street where I photographed it juxtaposed with a richly articulated cast iron building from more than a hundred years ago. And as before with the Twin Towers, One WTC appears at its most commanding from across the Hudson in New Jersey.

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Fulton Street (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

The rebuilding of the World Trade Center is ongoing, and construction will dominate the area for years. But several WTC towers have been completed, and Santiago Calatrava’s winged transportation center is getting closer to taking flight. The memorial fountains and the 9/11 Museum, most of which is underground, will not be a part of my narrative, which is focused on the skyline of New York, its mythic nature, and its more workaday reality as seen from the ground — on the street — the democratic commons of New York.

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One WTC entrance — © Brian Rose

There is no doubt, however, in the post-9/11 political climate, that the democratic commons is under assault. The Trade Center site crawls with police officers and other agents of what is now painfully called Homeland Security. And various private security guards hover about at the ready to correct the wayward tourist or local who finds him or herself caught in the blurring confusion between public and private property. These zones of ambiguity are multiplying around the city, not just at the World Trade Center.

The photograph above shows the entrance to One World Trade Center, a strangely beautiful, but chilling place — the glinting sunlight reflected onto the street, the regimented rows of steel bollards, the striping of the colored glass behind the revolving doors, the solitary black-suited sentinel awaiting anyone brave enough to step forward with the idea of entering this silent fortress.

 

MIT Museum/Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Exhibition entrance with wall-size print of Delancey Street 1980

A few weeks ago, an exhibition opened at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Photographing Places: The Photographs of Places Journal, 1997-2009. Places Journal was originally a print magazine dealing with issues relating to architecture and urbanism. Each issue featured an extended photo essay centered on a particular location. In 2004, just after I had begun re-photographing the Lower East Side I was asked to contribute to the magazine. I was approached by Cervin Robinson, the architectural photographer, who was a contributing editor to the magazine. Cervin is also the author of a Architecture Transformed: A History of the Photography of Buildings from 1839 to the Present. I knew Cervin from all the way back in 1980 when I first exhibited by photographs of the Lower East Side. Cervin was for me, and many other photographers, a mentor and great friend. I’ve written about Cervin here and here.

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Blow up of a Places Journal cover by Joel Sternfeld — © Brian Rose

I traveled up to Cambridge with my wife to attend a reception for the exhibition, which included four of my photographs, one of which was printed wall-size at the entryway to the show. The exhibition, curated by Gary Van Zante of the MIT Museum, features the work of about a 20 photographers whose images ran in the print version of Places. Places still exists, by the way, as a multi-dimensional website, and still presents photo essays focused on the built environment.

Almost a third of the photographers in the show were present at the reception, which was great. A couple of us had barely made it on time because of snow-delayed trains coming up from New York. I had very nice chats with Kate Milford, who was showing her photographs of downtown Brooklyn, and Lyle Gomes, who had photographed the landscape of the Presidio (former military base, now park) in San Francisco. I also spoke with Lisa Silvestri who has photographed post Katrina New Orleans. And best of all, the ageless Cervin Robinson was present.

Inside the door of the exhibition there is a blow-up of a cover of the former magazine with an image of the High Line by Joel Sternfeld in its former wild state. And two more images from that series are in the show.

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Lower East Side images — © Brian Rose

Above are my prints in the show — two from 1980 done by me and Edward Fausty working together, and two from 2004 when I had just begun re-photographing the Lower East Side. This is the work that eventually comprised Time and Space on the Lower East Side, my now sold-out book. It was in Places Journal before anywhere else.

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Brian Rose in front of Delancey Street 1980

Here I am standing in front of Delancey Street 1980 at the entrance to the exhibition. I knew that my image was going to be used big, but I didn’t realize it would be this big. Pretty cool! The next day my wife and I walked all the way from MIT to the Back Bay station in Boston through the frozen snow clogged streets. Spring is just around the corner.


New York/New Haven

In the middle of doing an exhibition at Dillon Gallery, and releasing my book about the Meatpacking District, I got a very special architectural photography assignment. The newly renovated Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University. It’s one of the most awe inspiring buildings in the Collegiate Gothic style. Designed by James Gamble Rogers, it was completed in 1930. It follows the basic form of a cathedral with central nave, side aisles, transept, and sanctuary.

From Wikipedia:  A mural in Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library depicts the Alma Mater as a bearer of light and truth standing in the midst of the personified arts and sciences, painted in 1932 by Eugene Savage. Throughout the building the various crafts of the period are celebrated — stained glass, stone carving, decorative painting, and cabinetry. Those elements, combined with the lightness and airiness of the architecture, make it a 1930s building. There are even hints of Art Deco in the tower housing the book stacks rising behind the nave.

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The nave — © Brian Rose

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The transept — © Brian Rose

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Alma Mater — © Brian Rose

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The side aisle/lounge — © Brian Rose

The building was restored mostly to its original appearance. The card files, which are no longer used, hide heating, air conditioning, and electronic systems. It’s essentially a modern building underneath. It was a two day shoot and a ton of post production Photoshop work. But what a privilege to get this kind of a job. The preservation architecture was done by Helpern Architects.

 

New York/4th of July

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he Brooklyn Bridge, 100th anniversary, 1983 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

Happy Independence Day!

After a number of years, the fireworks return to the East River. The above photo is a reprise of one of my “best hits.” A picture taken in 1983 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge. Thanks to a connection to the developer of the South Street Seaport, I had a spot among the rocks and sand at the edge of the river. There were a few other photographers around, but I was the only one crazy enough to shoot with a 4×5 view camera. And unlike the others, I used a wide angle lens to take in the entire scene.

Fortunately, it was not too windy, and I tried about a dozen wildly varied exposures. Because of the calm, smoke hung low in the air, and the second tower of the bridge is barely visible in my photograph. Remarkably, the negative is razor sharp without the slightest camera shake. It makes a great large print.

In photographing New York, one is frequently confronted with world famous icons — the bridges, skyscrapers, monuments. It’s all been done. But rather than worry about it, I just treat everything equally, seen as any pedestrian might see it. The trick sometimes is not about framing the extraordinary thing, but rather treating the extraordinary as a normal and unprivileged part of the landscape.

And then add fireworks!