Wednesday, January 29, 2014

You can't save them all . .

I had the opportunity this morning to photograph another KCMOSD school building slated for demolition. Built in 1930-31, J.S. Chick Elementary was among thirty-something schools closed in a "right-sizing" plan by the School District a few years ago. Once eligible for sale and repurposing, it soon fell to vandalism and will now be torn down.

There isn't anything unusual about this these days, nor is there much of anything special about this particular building. It's just a little sad, and a pretty big waste of a well-built, solid building. But, you can't save them all.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Just stop

Who hasn't driven past a particularly spectacular building and said, "I've GOT to see inside that someday!"?

I was in Wichita for a few days photographing a large and fairly uninteresting project when we stumbled on to an amazing Catholic Church. Wichita has a lot of Mid-Century-Moden architecture, but this church is WAY over the top! "I bet it's still amazing inside.", I said as we drove by.

On the last day in town we happened to drive past it again. It was fate. We stopped. We went in. And we were in awe.

I haven't been able to find any more about this building than what's on this dedication wall. I'd love to know who the architect was!
So, next time you drive past that spectacular building, try this:


Grab your camera.

Knock on the door.

You'll probably be glad you did!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sometimes it's easy . .

"Go out to a beautiful, impeccably maintained site and try to get some pretty pictures of a spectacular project." Sure, I can do that!

The project was the water tower in Unity Village just outside of Lees Summit, MO. Susan Richards Johnson, & Associates, INC. was tasked with designing 7 floors of usable office space inside the still-functioning water tower, as well as general building restoration and improvements. Their job was hard. I was asked to photograph the finished results. My job was easy.

The footprint of the building measures roughly 30x30 feet, and in that space there is an elevator and two stairways PLUS (now) usable office space on seven floors! It's an amazing building, and due to its location, visible from several miles away.

Yes, it is STILL a water tower! The tank is just below the observation deck.
The office spaces and lobby are surprisingly large, bright, and completely comfortable!
Pretty cool, 'eh?

Monday, August 26, 2013

The best part of waking up is . .

Last week I got the fantastic opportunity to photograph the former Folgers Coffee plant in downtown Kansas City for Rosin Preservation.

If you've ever been anywhere near 8th and Broadway within the last 100 years or so, you've probably caught the aroma of fresh ground coffee heavy in the air. It was kind of taken for granted by most residents. Well, Folgers closed the plant last year, the building has been sold, and I got to photograph the existing, pre-renovation conditions for historic tax credits.

The one surprise inside was that that wonderful smell of ground coffee has all but left the building, despite there being piles of it found throughout.

You really don't understand the massive scale of production that went on until you see the rooms full of huge machinery. What it all does, though, I couldn't tell you.

So, at the risk of watching the proverbial sausage being made, let's have a look inside . .

The equipment on the roofs (both buildings) is monstrous, with a touch of early NASA thrown in.

This stuff makes the coffee grinder at the grocery store look pathetic!

And all the machinery used simply to move coffee from one place to another . .
I was tempted to scoop up a handful off the floor, but well, it's probably been sitting there for about a year, so no thanks.

So long, Folgers.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Schools, schools and more schools

Over the last couple of years I have photographed more schools than any other type of building. The vast majority have been vacant for a few years or more and are under consideration for other uses. This usually leaves their condition somewhat, well, lets just say "rough."

What makes photographing these buildings interesting for me now is that there's a level of familiarity and comfortable nostalgia, tempered (or polluted) with a good dose of stark reality. Kind of like when you run into an old friend from grammar school and all you can think is, "WOW, he/she got OLD!"

Old and rough, but still beautiful!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Primitives at home . .

As I'm sure you're aware, I photograph a LOT of buildings at a time when they aren't exactly beautiful. So when my friend Todd asked if I'd shoot his loft apartment, I was thrilled!

Todd is an interior designer and painter working all over Missouri and Illinois. His personal taste runs toward primitives, the more original and rustic the better. What some see as old, beat up relics, he sees as items with deep, meaningful history. "A pioneer woman probably used this." he often says.

Todd likes the sculptural elements of old ladders, barn vents, HUGE dough bowls, shoe forms, etc. and displays them well.

Enjoy the tour!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Shot in the dark . .

Rod Serling said, "There is nothing in the dark that isn't there when the light are on." OK, but what if you CAN'T turn the lights on?

I've photographed a lot of interiors that are, at best, dimly lit. Old abandoned buildings rarely have power and usually the first few floors are boarded up. But earlier this week I had to document a building for Rosin Preservation that was pretty well sealed from top to bottom. It was damp, (it was literally raining on ALL seven floors), cold enough to see your breath, and dark enough that I wasn't sure I would get any usable shots. On top of that, it was BIG and empty, so getting shots that actually show the entire space was tough.

Even though a crew of guys had gone through the building and put railings up around all the open elevator shafts and missing stairwells, it still FELT like one of the most unsafe buildings I'd ever photographed.

But, did I like the experience? No. I loved it!


The bright slivers of light was all that got through the sealed windows, and it was barely visible to the eye.

What lives in a dark, cold, wet space? Mushrooms, and whatever the hell that creepy red stuff is!

This building had a tower, and here's what was left of the stairs to the roof.

Here's the difference just ONE open window made!

And here's what the first floor looked like, lit by only the glass entryway doors in the distance. FUN!

Hopefully I'll get to go back when this building is finished. The transformation can only be stunning!