Design on the Haus
Throughout the month of June, we’re going to take a look at books. With any luck, you’ll find some time this season to devote to reading—and possibly writing—some well-crafted words. We’ve compiled a short list of (mostly) new titles to get the literary ball rolling.
Once summer is over, there are two noteworthy events to replenish your reading list. The NY Art Book Fair comes to PS 1 September 16-18. Organized by Printed Matter, the fair features artist-produced books that range from affordable to investment-quality. The 2016 Designers & Books Fair will be held on November 11-13; check designersandbooks.com for details.
Dance the Bauhaus
While the Bauhaus is known worldwide as an avant-garde workshop for architecture, art, and design, some might be surprised to learn that the school also nurtured the study of dance as a means of investigating questions of form and space. Bearing names like Form Dance, Glass Dance, Metal Dance, Stick Dance, and Space Dance, the experimental choreography was performed during Bauhaus festivals, often accompanied by a band playing a mix of jazz and traditional German folk tunes—haus music, one might say.
The Architecture of Happiness
Alain de Botton
On Paul Goldberger’s list of must-reads for architects, this generously-illustrated book journeys through the philosophy and psychology of architecture and the powerful connection between identity and location. One of the root causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of the designed environment—and yet a concern for architecture is often described as frivolous, even self-indulgent. De Botton takes the thought that where we are heavily influences who we can be as his starting point, and argues that it is architecture’s task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potential.
Twenty Over Eighty: Conversations on a Lifetime in Architecture and Design
Aileen Kwun and Bryn Smith
Princeton Architectural Press
A variant on the 40 Under 40-genre of talent-prognosticating, this book is a collection of intimate and often irreverent interviews with twenty architecture and design luminaries over the age of eighty. Revealing conversations with architects Denise Scott Brown, Stanley Tigerman, Ricardo Scofidio, Beverly Willis, and the late Michael Graves; urbanist Jane Thompson; product designers Ingo Maurer, Richard Sapper, and Jens Risom; graphic designers Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser, and Deborah Sussman; critic Ralph Caplan, and others shed light on how and why these pioneers continue to shape their disciplines well into their ninth decade.
Nanotecture: Tiny Built Things
Consider this a portfolio of the possible. Three hundred thought-provoking architectural works of diminutive size—including demountable, portable, transportable, and inflatable structures, as well as pavilions, installations, sheds, pods, and capsules—use new materials and methods to demonstrate that small-scale constructs can prove inspiring in their own right.
A Burglar’s Guide to the City
From the author of BLDGBLOG, this book offers an atypical perspective: How any building transforms when seen through the eyes of someone hoping to break into it. Chronicling nearly 2,000 years of heists and break-ins, the book draws on the expertise of reformed bank robbers, FBI agents, private security consultants, the LAPD Air Support Division, and architects past and present to analyze the strengths and vulnerabilities of a range of building types.
Picturing America’s National Parks
Jamie M. Allen
Aperture; co-published with the George Eastman Museum
To celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service, this book assembles some of the finest landscape photography in the history of the medium. Featuring the work of masters such as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, William Henry Jackson, Edward Weston, and Minor White, as well as contemporary artists such as Lee Friedlander, Stephen Shore, and Joel Sternfeld, this volume explores the role of photography in promoting national heritage, land conservation, and wildlife preservation.
And one to pre-order…
Never Built New York
Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell
Due in October, this follow-up to Never Built Los Angeles features nearly 200 proposals for bridges, skyscrapers, master plans, parks, transit schemes, amusements, airports, plans to fill in rivers and extend the island of Manhattan, culled from the past 200 years. Included are Frank Lloyd Wright’s last project, the Key Plan for Ellis Island; Buckminster Fuller’s design for Brooklyn’s Dodger Stadium, complete with giant geodesic dome; developer William Zeckendorf’s Rooftop Airport, perched on steel columns 200 feet above street level, spanning 24th to 71st streets and Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River; and Stephen Holl’s Bridge of Houses, which offered housing options from SROs to modest studios to luxury apartments along a segment of what is now the High Line.
Here in New York City, it’s Architecture and Design Month “Archtober” (ärk’tōbər)! It’s the fifth annual month-long festival of architecture activities, programs and exhibitions taking place during the month of October. Around the globe, there are a bounty of cultural festivals that also celebrate excellent architecture and great design and, this month, we’re highlighting some of the world’s best. Let’s start here at home in NYC with the Architecture & Design Film Festival…
Now, in its seventh year, the Architecture & Design Film Festival returns to New York, October 13 -18, with an invigorating selection of feature-length, short, and documentary films. Expect to be engaged and entertained by lively discussions with architects, designers, filmmakers and industry leaders. We caught up with Kyle Bergman, the founder and director of the Architecture & Design Film Festival.
Q: How did the festival get started?
A: I’m an architect by profession and I’ve always thought about the great connection between architecture and film. To me, they’re two sides of the same coin — architecture and film are ways for us to tell stories. They share similar characteristics, for one, they are both public acts. Both art forms consider light, scale, proportion, and it’s really a balance between art and science. Merging architecture and film was something that came natural to me. I really wanted to develop a film festival that engaged the general public as well as the design community.
Q: What is the film selection process?
A: We accept submissions year-round. We preview around 250 films and try to stick to a schedule of 25-30 films. However, this year we ended up with a selection of 33 films, which speaks volumes about the high caliber of submissions we received. Our selection process is “organic”, and we don’t adhere to criteria; we care more about how the films capture the creative design process.
Q: Were there themes that came together in making selections for this year’s programs?
A: No, we don’t start with themes, it generally evolves. But a Nordic theme became apparent when we were finalizing our program schedule. For instance, we’re showing Jytte Rex’s acclaimed portrait of the late Henning Larsen, and The Infinite Happiness, which features the giant 8 House designed by Bjarke Ingels. Festivalgoers may even detect mini-Irish and family themes.
Q: Can you describe the physical and emotional duress of putting on a festival like this?
A: I may disappoint you with my answer… I’m a firm believer that if you like what you do, you don’t even think about it.
Q: Tell us the best and worst part of your job.
A: The festival is something that I started, so I’m proud of that. But I would say the best part of my job is having the opportunity to increase architecture and design dialogue, and make it more appealing to a wider audience, not just for design professionals. Then, there are the filmmakers…I feel that the festival puts a spotlight on these talented filmmakers and showcases their passion and dedication to their craft.
Don’t miss out on the nation’s largest film festival celebrating architecture and design. Tickets and the program schedule are available here.
Part 3 of Summer Haus is a curated guide of outdoor art exhibits around the globe. Bid farewell to the remaining weeks of summer, soak up the golden sunlight, while checking out these outdoor art exhibitions.
Inside Out, Philadelphia
(Courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts)
Inside Out, an exhibition organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Art, Akron Art Museum, and the Knight Foundation, brings high quality reproductions of famous artworks from their collections to outdoor areas such as bike paths, residential neighborhoods, and parks in Pennsylvania and other states.
Please Touch the Art, Brooklyn, New York
(Courtesy of James Ewing)
New York’s Public Art Fund invited Danish artist Jeppe Hein to create an installation of fountains, mirrors, and playful benches to populate Brooklyn Bridge Park. Mirror Labyrinth NY, made with vertical planks of mirrored-polished steel arranged in three radical arcs, the alternating rhythm and uneven heights of the steel elements echo the Manhattan skyline.
Kapoor Versailles, Versailles, France
(Courtesy of Anish Kapoor)
Sectional Body Preparing for Monadic Singularity, is one of six pieces at the historic French site. Measuring 23 feet high, the black-and-red cube with a futuristic PVC interior is tucked amid the foliage in Versailles’s mazelike hedges. Artist, Anish Kapoor, states that, “a work of art doesn’t exist alone but through its viewer.” The visitor at Versailles will experience the dualities of artist’s work: heaven, earth, visible, invisible, inside, outside, shadow, light.
Dismaland, Somerset, England
(Courtesy of Anish Kapoor)
Bansky’s Dismaland is a bemusement park where you can escape from mindless escapism. Hidden inside the walls of this derelict seaside resort, you will find an assortment of bizarre and beautiful artworks. Banksy is showing 10 artworks of his own with artwork from 58 global artists, including Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Jimmy Cauty, Bill Barminski, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, Bäst, and Espo.
Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape, Nashville, Tennessee
(Courtesy of Cheekwood)
Spanish artist Jaume Plensa has installed the two ethereal visages pictured above along with seven other large-scale sculptures at the historic Nashville estate Cheekwood. Jaume Plensa creates sculptures and installations that unify individuals through connections of spirituality, the body, and collective memory.
Swing Time, Boston, Massachusetts
(Courtesy of Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe)
Part of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority ‘s initiative to create the first interactive public space in Boston, Swing Time, designed by Eric Howeler and Meejin Yoon of Howeler and Yoon Architecture, is an art installation of 20 glowing oval swings containing LED lights that activate based on the swings’ movement.
Lynda Benglis: Water Sources, New Windsor, New York
(Courtesy of Lynda Benglis)
American artist Lynda Benglis has installed a series of sculptures and fountains at New York’s 500-acre Storm King Art Center. The North South East West fountains, shown here, are made from cast bronze and steel.
Salt, Sandhornøya, Norway
(Courtesy of SALT)
SALT is a nomadic initiative celebrating the environment, art, and culture of the Artic region. The 150 meter long Artic Pyramid designed by Rintala Eggertsson Architects and artist Joar Nango will host art from Chinese artist Yang Fudong.
Part 2 of Summer Haus is a very brief and very biased tour of our favorite pools. Take off your clothes, hold your nose, and jump in! Oh, and remember to reapply your sunscreen.
Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, Italy
(photo Carole Raddato, Flickr)
The Emperor Hadrian employed thousands of slaves to build his sprawling country retreat outside Rome in the 2nd Century AD. The estate cover 250 acres and boasts a treasury of art from across the Empire, particularly Greece and Egypt. This oval pool, the Canopus, must have been the scene of many a Bacchanalian toga party. The caryatids aren’t talking.
Donnell Garden, California
(photo Charles Birnbaum, Cultural Landscape Foundation)
Living the American dream at the father of kidney-shaped pools. This iconic California landscape, designed by modernist landscape architect Thomas Church in the 1950s, is an outstanding example of laid back but sophisticated outdoor living. The biomorphic sculpture is by Adaline Kent.
McCarren Pool, Brooklyn(photo Rogers Marvel)
(photo Rogers Marvel)
Closer to home, we have Robert Moses to thank for Brooklyn’s McCarren Pool – and for nine other free, gigantic New York City pools for the 99%. Moses was a keen swimmer who competed on the Yale swim team and swam a mile a day into his 80s. Rogers Marvel Architects renovated the pool in 2012, using the original swimmer’s storage baskets on the lobby ceiling.
The Library, Koh Samui, Thailand
(photo The Library)
A base of mosaic glass tiles in orange, yellow and blood gives this pool its alarming color.
Bondi Iceberg, Bondi Beach, Australia
“Be a man, not a mollusk,” proclaim the membership rules of the Bondi Iceberg Club, so called because winter swimming is compulsory for members. The dramatic Bondi Baths, overflowing into the ocean, have been a landmark of Bondi Beach for over 100 years.
Infinity Pool, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
(photos Wikipedia Commons)
(photos Wikipedia Commons)
Eat you heart out, SoHo house: This dizzying pool, on the roof of the Moshe Safdie-designed, triple-towered Marina Bay Hotel, is the world’s highest and largest rooftop infinity pool. Not for those with vertigo, this watery aerie cantilevers 65 meters off the towers, and looms 57 stories above the city.
Summer is the perfect time to do some strategic thinking, so we’ll continue our snapshot of “A Three-Phase Program to Fast-Track Your Design Business for Profit.” Dr. Tami Hausman participated in the panel at the 2015 AIA National Convention in May, along with Lisa Henry, CEO of Greenway Group, and Stephen Whitehorn, managing principal of Whitehorn Financial Group.
In this installment, “The Doctor” gives her prescription for communicating more effectively about your projects to win the next ones. And we’re particularly excited about this post because it’s the 200th for Design on the Haus. Go Team Hausman!
Communicate with impact!
Now that you have your strategic plan underway, you want to communicate more effectively. It’s essential to define your message(s) so you can differentiate your firm in the marketplace. Knowing your message or messages will point you in the direction that you want to go.
Mark Twain said that “Most conversations are monologues in the presence of witnesses.” But, sarcasm aside, clear and precise communcations is the cornerstone to any business. It sounds obvious, but we all know the kind of people who talk on and on and on and don’t listen, don’t we? My father calls these people “Books on Tape.”
But really good communication is a conversation between people. So whether you’re networking or selling or publicizing your work, you need to engage your clients and audiences – not talk at them.
This is particularly important in the AEC industry, because many clients do not understand exactly what designers do. It’s your job to educate them. The best way to engage with your audience is to provide information that they don’t already know. In other words, you should “teach not preach.”
Who are you talking to?
Keep in mind that you will never have just one audience, you have many. So your messages must be targeted to different groups, which include potential clients, existing clients, decision makers, your peers, and your broad network, among others.
What do communications with all these audiences have in common? That’s the golden rule of outreach, which is: It’s about them, it’s not about you.
First, they want to know that you understand their business. And, second, if you want to connect with them, there is no substitute for clear language that’s free of jargon. You also have to customize your language to your audiences, because different audiences will want to hear different stories about your work. The good news is that you can tell plentiful stories about each of your projects. It’s a great way to get wide coverage.
Make it matter
No matter what kind of outreach you do, remember that you must first, number one, support your strategic business goals. Focus your efforts on the PR campaigns that are going to yield the greatest results for you and your firm.
Second, use your resources wisely. Say, for example, you just finished a private house, but you’re really interested in designing hospitals. You need to decide where you should spend your time and money. You may not want to do a big campaign that’s focused on your residential work.
Last, you need to be timely. When you’re getting started to launch an outreach campaign about a project, always think big and be relevant. Connect the project to a holiday, a trend, a topical news issue, or an event.
One more good reason
Still on the fence? Here’s another good reason to do outreach: in most instances, your competition is probably already doing it. And if they are not, and you start an outreach program, it will put you that much ahead of the game.
This post is the first in our new series “FunHaus” where we explore the people, places, and things we love. Enter the FunHaus!
“A new standard for online journalism,” commented Bencharif on the The New York Times’ review of the new Whitney Museum.
We couldn’t agree more. The review, if that’s still the right word for it, was a collaboration between writer Michael Kimmelman, a team of graphic artists, and the architect Renzo Piano – produced entirely without photography of the new museum. The goal was to “create a seamless experience that would leave readers with a greater understanding of the building than could be achieved in a more traditional story form,” wrote Graham Roberts, one of the graphic artists. Mission accomplished.
Architecture lends itself marvelously to video. It’s a visual medium, obviously, but also a kinetic one. Time is one of its components: buildings are designed to be moved through (see our recent post on architecture as experience by guest blogger and architectural historian, John Kriskiewicz). Designers looking to get their work published, even without photography, should consider creating similar fly-throughs with their existing 3-D models.
Kimmelman’s words are punctuated by several kinetic experiences. The reader/viewer passes through walls, zips backwards along an interior corridor, zooms in and out. The videos move fast, but one of the lovelier moments is a lingering slideshow of historic images of the uptown building.
No buttons to press, no links to follow; the experience is automatic. This curated approach is not to everyone’s taste. M Hagood in Brooklyn said, “I am giving up, because the design keeps hijacking my page and sending me off on a visual roller coaster. Look, I like design. I teach design. This is just a pain in the behind.” Overall, however, the reception was enthusiastic. Richard in Denver gets the last word: “The best review overall in decades.”
This month, we’re focusing on the experience of architecture. We welcome our special guest blogger, architectural historian John Kriskiewicz, Assoc. AIA, who takes us on a journey through two iconic New York buildings to illustrate his views on “architecture as experience.”
A native New Yorker, John holds a professional degree in architecture from Pratt Institute and is a board member of DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State. Over the past two decades, he has taught courses focused on architectural and planning history at Parsons School of Design, The Cooper Union, Fashion Institute of Technology, Stern College for Women, and Manhattan College, while designing tour programs and lectures for many of New York City’s institutions and corporations. His many exhibitions and articles have revealed history and preservation issues to a broad audience. John admits to a special affinity for New York’s extensive infrastructure, as well as its Mid-Century Modern heritage.
“When I enter a dwelling, I experience atmospheres one after the other – sequences of light and shade, of narrowness and space. There is a scenography, a dramatic structure for the space. Architecture is great cinema.We design buildings like films, whose power lies in leading us through worlds and catching hold of our emotions.” – Architect Thomas Willemeit of the Berlin-LA-Beijing firm Graft , 2015
The importance of scenography and sequence was understood by architects trained according to Beaux-Arts philosophies at the end of the nineteenth and the early twentieth century. They knew this carefully choreographed procession through space as “marche”, the French verb “to walk”.
“Marche” is the sequence we experience at Carrère and Hastings’s New York Public Library of 1911 on Fifth Avenue.
Ascending a set of broad stone stairs, from the level of the sidewalk, to a spacious terrace, we are encouraged to pause a moment to take in our surroundings, just above the heads of the crowds on the avenue behind us. In front of us, we survey a wide, white marble façade. The triple arched entry beckons us forward, up a higher set of white marble stairs, to the entrance portico. Here we are in transition, neither quite inside nor out. Through a low bronze door we are compressed for a moment, then we are released into an eruption of space. Surrounded by creamy white marble lit by both electric and natural light that pulls us ever upwards, towards the vast reading room. This most spacious, brightest, most elaborate public space, is the heart and soul of the building.
Through this choreographed sequence of spaces, materials, and light, we’ve made a journey from the quotidian, into the realm of the intellect. An architectural metaphor for the process of enlightenment.
Often, the most dispiriting of architectural experiences is air travel. Eero Saarinen’s whimsical 1962 Trans World Airlines Flight Center, now part of Jet Blue’s Terminal 5 at Kennedy International Airport reminds us of a different era. In his words,
“We wanted passengers passing through the building to experience a fully-designed environment in which each part arises from another and everything belongs to the same formal world.”
Saarinen’s concept, provided the passenger with a similar journey from the everyday into the glamorous world of air travel. A “jet-age” reinterpretation of “marche”.
For this example I must revert to the past tense. There are plans, however, that may allow us to experience what was, once more.
New York International Airport at Idlewild, planned by architect Wallace Harrison as “Terminal City”, placed TWA at a prominent bend along the circumferential roadway.
Designed to be experienced first through the windshield of a private automobile or taxi, this location was critical to the initial experience. Like the Beaux-Arts Public Library on its broad terrace, we are given the opportunity to comprehend the whole from the roadway before we enter. The building’s iconic silhouette was both a progressive corporate symbol and widely understood metaphor for flight.
If architecture is “frozen music”, TWA is Bossa Nova. Like that lyrical fusion of samba and jazz, TWA is smooth, sensual, expressive and Modern. Thin shell concrete, sinuously forms a porte coche, as we stepped from the car. Through glass automatic doors into a day lit, sculptural space, matte white circular tiles grew into fantastic forms; bridges, terraces, reception desks, arrival and departure boards. Up a half flight to a “TWA red” carpeted terrace. There, a sunken, red upholstered seating area where we could pause to survey a panorama of jet craft, through a broad, curved glass wall.
No need to descend to the tarmac to then climb up a rolling stair to the entry door of the plane, like all other terminals of the day. Instead, we walked from the daylight of the terminal terrace through white tubes awash with a luminescence whose source is hidden beneath the crimson carpeted paths. Gradually ascending, our destination was momentarily hidden by the arch of the tube, and then revealed: the “flight wing”. Here once again, daylight poured through glass walls and “jetways” connected directly to the aircraft.
From automobile drop off to aircraft, a seamless journey, made memorable by attention throughout to space, form, color, material.
From different eras, designed for different functions, yet The New York Public Library and The TWA Flight Center share that unmistakable, memorable quality of architecture as experience.
The “experience” of architecture is multi-sensory. Visiting a building in person can evoke a complex set of stimuli and sensations, from how light enters the space to the way a stone floor “feels” beneath your feet. When it comes to promoting your work and trying to share this experience with the media, you can invite editors and journalists to visit in person. But how can you convey a similar experience of your project through other means?
Conducting a “virtual” tour of your project using video can be a great way to allow your audiences to experience your project. Even though your “guests” won’t physically inhabit the space, a virtual tour can provide an effective facsimile and may even entice them to visit in person.
Social media platforms that use video and live streaming can bring your projects to life and share them with a global audience. Users can virtually experience your project, and you can tell the building’s story in a three-dimensional way; this is something two-dimensional photographs can’t do.
Let’s look at a few ways you can share the experience of your projects with your fans, the media, and other audiences using digital and social media together.
Promote your project via a “virtual tour” using social media
Shoot a short video walkthrough of your project. Take the opportunity to highlight special features of the building. Next, post it on social media to give your audience an inside perspective of your project. This way, anyone can “visit” your project no matter where they are in the world. You can also send the video out to editors and writers as a way to introduce them to your project or even invite them to visit the project in person.
Online design publications love to post video because it generates clicks, so send them your virtual tour via direct Tweet; it’s a great way to get an editor’s attention. If you’ve planned a grand opening, in-person media tour, or other live event, a 30-second video posted to Twitter or a 15-second clip on Instagram can be an effective teaser to build interest in that event. Posting your video to all of your active social media platforms can generate broader interest in your project and give your firm greater exposure to a larger audience.
Use video to demonstrate special features
Using video, you can also highlight – and even demonstrate – important features of your project. For example, let’s say you your new project has a special daylighting system that adjusts windows and blinds to maximize the amount of natural light in the space. You can shoot a 30-second time-lapse video to show the movement of light within the space and how it changes throughout the day. This gives viewers a sense of what it’s like to visit and can encourage them to experience it first hand.
Hold a “virtual” media tour event via live streaming
Your favorite editor can’t make it to your live event? Then bring your live event to her! Using live-streaming apps like Periscope, you can share your media tours and grand openings with a wide online audience. Periscope blossomed from an idea that there is no better way to virtually experience a place in real-time than through live video. The best part is, you can download the app to your smart phone and carry it around with you during your event to share the experience of your new space with your viewers. Your viewers get to see what you want to show them, hear your thoughts about the design process and share in the live event; it’s as if they are there in person with you for a private tour.
While nothing will ever match what it’s like to inhabit a space first hand, experiencing architecture is no longer limited to visiting it in person. Because of new technologies, we can share and experience buildings, landscapes, and open spaces with anyone who can connect to the Internet from the comfort of their laptop or mobile device. So what are you waiting for? Get filming!
Photography is an essential marketing tool for architects, but too many firms fall short on photographically documenting their buildings. Architectural photography has the ability to show a building “in action” — demonstrating how people use and live in it, showing off programmatic elements and telling the building’s story. But you should take care that the images you show to prospective clients, as well as those you post on your website and share on social media, communicate both your project’s success and your strengths as an architect.
Many of your prospective clients may never visit your projects in person, and they may never see your space alive, filled with human interaction, and performing as programmed. Nor will they experience the sensibility of the space: the sculptural height of a room, the carefully conceived wash of light against plaster, steel, or stone. They may not witness firsthand the painstaking detail of a stair. Words can describe, and your enthusiasm can excite, but it’s excellent photography that will truly help you tell the story of your project — and thus create more opportunities for your firm.
The success of your practice lies in the photographer’s ability to translate your architectural craft into vivid images that reflect your aspirations and bring your vision to life. You are paying for a photographer’s experience to interpret the geometry of a space, to combine proper equipment and post-production savvy to get that final, sublime still image. The art of a good architectural photographer lies in her translation of how the eye reads the lightness and shadow, foreground and background and the sensual detail of texture. Although the iPhone takes great photos, you would be selling your work short by relying on snapshots for project documentation. So there is real value in hiring the right photographer to document your work.
Take a moment to review the photographs you are using to represent your work. Look at them as if you are seeing your projects for the first – or only – time, solely based on these images. Are they strong, vibrant, as-if-you-were-there images? Or are they too dark, blurry, or have an off-color cast? Furthermore, do these images show the technical beauty of your space or building, yet fail to capture the human side of what happens there, leaving images that read cold and lifeless, devoid of people and activity?
For me, what makes architectural photography really special is its potential to narrate a building’s story. Architecture has the capacity to affect society: to create better, more livable places and, thus, to improve lives. The challenge for the photographer is to reveal the building’s functionality and the social interactions of its users in a way that’s authentic and spatial. A good architectural photographer is not only a master technician, but also an excellent storyteller: she combines aesthetics with a journalistic eye so that captions are unnecessary.
When I shoot, I seek out spaces and places where people congregate, live, and work. To best capture the social side of the building, I try to inhabit the space for a while and watch the building function. From there, the challenge (and fun) is to capture a moment in the building’s life that represents how it looks every day, and to represent — to an individual who may never experience the project first-hand — how the architect and client envisioned it to function.
Hiring a photographer is how you close out a project. The space has been realized, the fees received and the creative energy of the architect is leaning towards the next project. In some cases, you may never step back into the spaces that you’ve designed. Your future work depends on how your past projects market your architectural skill. So before you leave your space finished, hire a talented photographer who can accurately document your work, the energy with which you have imbued it and your vision that created it.
Aislinn Weidele is the Director of Creative Services for Hausman LLC and an expert in architectural photography and graphic design. Top image © Aislinn Weidele/Gotham Projects; second image © James Ewing Photography; bottom image © Michael Moran/OTTO
May is National Photography Month, so we are going to explore how you can use professional and snapshot photography to promote your firm and projects on social media.
Using photos and imagery in your social media will boost your company’s virtual presence, promote your projects, and engage your audience. In fact, Tweets with images get 2 times the engagement rate of those without them. The following are a few strategies for using photography to communicate about your work.
Tell a story with your photographs. Social media platforms allow you to take your audiences – clients, colleagues, potential clients, fans – on a story-telling journey. Your followers want to see snapshots of your projects at every stage, from design concept through completion. Showing them your process through photos is a great way to show them your personality as a designer, what your office culture is like, who your employees are, and so on. Tell them a story with the photographs that you upload on social media channels like Instagram and Twitter. For example, you can choose a collection of project photos that represent your firm’s signature style and post them as #signatureproject. Or you could choose a different photo every day of projects, people, and places that tell a story about your firm and its work as #photooftheday. Whatever you post, choose photos that tell a story and share them!
Build your virtual portfolio. You probably already have a portfolio of your projects on your website. But you can also use platforms like Pinterest or Instagram to create a virtual project portfolio on social media and use it as an active way to engage your audiences. For example, you can create a Pinterest board to show off all of your projects in one typology such as healthcare or cultural buildings. In fact, the more boards you create the more opportunities you create for other users to pin your photos to their boards. Showcase your projects, from renderings to final photography. Optimize all the images that you upload and remember to link back to your website.
Take control of your firm’s existing presence on platforms like Pinterest, where users may already be pinning images of your projects. Photos of your projects may already exist on other people’s Pinterest boards. Take control of those images by re-pining to your board and expand your audience by following other users who admire your work. This will not only increase your exposure but it will also build your network.
You can also create a virtual gallery on Twitter. You can tweet links to your gallery and use it as yet another way to engage your audience and promote your projects.
Show the evolution of a project. You do not have to wait until the completion of a project to promote it. The power of social media, specifically Instagram, allows you to keep the conversation going, from planning to completion. Instagram is a good platform that delivers informal snapshots to your audience and gives them the opportunity to follow, share, and comment as a project progresses. Use Instagram to take your audience through the journey of your project and capture moments throughout the life of the project to tell a story. Choose a project in the beginning stages of design and show it’s progress by posting photos as the project progresses from concept to construction through opening day. Your audience wants to see photos of behind-the-scenes (you could use a hashtag like #bts), events, and people. Always remember that it’s important to use hashtags because they allow your tweets to trend on other users Twitter feeds, sparking new conversations and re-tweets.
So, whether it’s an informal snapshot of your team hard at work on your next design or a professional photo of a completed building, remember that using photography on social media has huge potential to engage and grow your audience.