Old School Photo Hack

Soaring architecture


What is it about humans that we want to create such soaring edifices?  Not that I mind them.  Actually, it’s the contrary — I love them.  But I’ve always been curious… why do we do it?  Whether it’s a commercial space, a government building, or a religious cathedral, there has  been a human fascination with big structures since time eternal, and especially those with interiors that dwarf normal human scale.

Why?  I’d be interested in your thoughts.

13 thoughts on “Soaring architecture

    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Just so long as we get the gist without bringing down the ratings police, I’m good with it.

      So, do you think it’s ego… or something else? Is it vanity on the part of the architect, builder, and/or owner? Or is it an attempt to wow the building visitor?


  1. Cynthia Guenther Richardson

    I suggest it is a natural desire to get closer to the greater universe, a giant reach beyond our sensory life and restrictive physicality. Perhaps a deep desire for permanence and grandeur that others recognize. But since I believe we are all a part of God’s vast network of creations, this works for me. I always want to extend myself in various ways. Architecture fascinates and draws me. Thanks for your fine photos. And thank you kindly for the like of my story “Pastime”!


    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Thank you for commenting, Cynthia.

      I often wonder about architecture.

      Art — for me — is quite understandable. An artist creates something that appeals to them in the *now*, irrespective of what later viewers think or interpret the pieces to be in the future. Having been an artist for most of my life, I largely reject what art critics verbalize or publish about a piece without direct interaction or knowledge from the artist in question. And even then — knowing how artists can manipulate — I still take anything said or published with a hefty grain of salt.

      But architecture is a different beast. It must be functional on a level that pure art never has to deal with; architecture can function as shelter from the elements; it can incorporate sleeping, eating, and the bio functions of the visitors or inhabitants; it can project humility, power, vanity, or reflection; it can be earthy, spiritual, high-tech, or anything in between.

      I’ve done mechanical and architectural drafting long ago, never to the level of an architect, but enough to have a serious appreciation for the skills needed to create a structure. And it always makes me wonder… what they were trying to achieve? And did they feel that the end result met their expectations?

      Anyway, I love seeing architecture, experiencing the spaces that have been created, and taking photos of it.


    2. Cynthia Guenther Richardson

      I appreciate your comments and primarily agree. Since architecture has been magnetic for me all my life, I can’t walk/drive down a street without studying, appreciating or questioning what I see. I think I just love design in general! Outdoor spaces intrigue me as well.I didn’t choose any of these for my career but I can enjoy them daily. I enjoy painting and drawing–and have a daughter who is an exhibiting sculptor.:) Keep on creating!


  2. MontgomeryFest

    oh man, seriously! haha i used to ask this often while driving in the states and coming upon an empty field with a semi-skyscraper on it. why build up? when you have all of this room to build out! it’s pretty, i can only figure….


    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Years ago my wife and I lived in such a structure — The Washingtonian, a tall condominium tower that was built in a cow pasture out in the middle of nowhere. The owner and builder of the structure speculated that the property would become very valuable. It eventually did, though it was many decades later than he expected. Now it’s a thick nest of buildings, stores, condos, hotels, roads, and interchanges.

      You can read about him and the tower here: http://www.gaithersburghistory.com/share/sam-eig.html
      And more about the man here: http://masterrussian.net/f13/everyone-knows-sam-eig-but-they-dont-know-he-came-minsk-18592/


  3. Susan Call Hutchison

    I enjoyed your exchange with Cynthia. I read your post, thought the question almost answered itself, and then was amused to see “ego” (and other human parts) thrown into the equation. The answer I instinctively felt was: Just notice how you feel in the presence of these towers. Artists are almost compelled to create certain effects, and builders are artists in stone, and steel and glass. I think they create to express the feeling of awe, and connection to the greater universe. I think artists in miniatures create to express the feeling of compassion for things smaller, and the wonder at exquisite detail inherent in the smallest things. Humans are designed to feel these both sensations, and a myriad more. We create art. Isn’t that amazing?


    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Art is indeed amazing, both the actual creation in itself and the final end result.

      I also wonder how much pragmatic choices of materials affect the end result for the artists in question.

      Early on I did illustrations with pencil and/or ink that were finely detailed, only to see the end result flawed because I used cheap materials. In the example I’m thinking of, I had created a beautiful pencil and charcoal photo-realistic illustration of a tall ship, but when I was finished I discovered that the cheap paper I had selected readily showed the grain of the webbing it had been made upon, ruining the final image (too much working and reworking of the substrate had lifted the paper grain until it became painfully obvious). Had I used a high-end illustration paper or vellum, the problem would not have arisen — but I didn’t know that then.

      Likewise — at least for me — working with small images is strictly a matter of portability and/or cost. Many of my watercolor paintings were done on location en plein air, and I was using a small belt pack to carry all of my supplies. High-end watercolor paper is also quite expensive, so I found I could subdivide a large sheet and make as many as 16 little paintings instead of one large one.

      Anyway… it’s interesting to discuss!


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