Monday, May 27, 2013


On Sunday, May 26, I spent some time in downtown Milwaukee, doing a little architectural photography.  One of the nice things about architecture is that doesn't move on you like wildlife or plants in the wind can.

Milwaukee's roots extend back comfortably into the 19th century, and a lot of its distinctive architecture reaches back a hundred years or more.  On the other hand, as with many of the Midwestern cities in the so-call rustbelt, it has not seen the growth in recent decades that cities in the sunbelt have, and is therefore somewhat lacking in examples of contemporary architectural style.  Even so, I caught a few.

To begin, here are a couple of shots of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (more familiarly known as the PAC).

I know that I have a problem failing to provide an overall perspective on these things, but I do like to capture some of these clean but complex lines, especially as in the second image.

Here are a couple of shots of another relatively recent (in the last 15 years) addition to Milwaukee's collection of modern architecture, the 1000 N. Water Street building.

I increased the contrast on this shot a bit, and I like the result, which has a feel of HDR to it, even though it's not.  Here is a close-up.

Going a little further back in time, here is a photo of the Milwaukee Center, in this case the commercial office tower portion of what also includes several theater venues and a hotel.  Again, I liked the complicated lines that the architecture features.

Next up, Milwaukee City Hall.  The interior of City Hall is stunning, and so is the exterior.  Unfortunately, the extensive renovation the exterior underwent several years ago proved to have problems which are now being corrected, necessitating scaffolding being extended around the entire perimeter of the building.  So my shots for this post were confined to the building's upper reaches.  Here are a couple of those.

I am always amazed at the amount of architectural detail that these older buildings feature.  The detail in the first shot is probably a good 150 feet above street level.

And here are a couple of older buildings along East Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee's "main street."  First up, the Milwaukee Club building.  I always thought this building's exterior was badly in need of restoration.  However, unless that was done in the last few years without my noticing, this deep red sandstone exterior appears to to in very good condition for a building that is well into its second century.

And here is another example of 19th century architecture, a close-up of the the former Northwestern National Insurance building, now housing a branch office of Northern Trust Company.

But the real star of this post is the Federal Building, also on Wisconsin Avenue.

I especially like the way the small trees complement the romanesque architecture.  I also felt that the couple walking by helped to provide perspective on a quiet Sunday morning.  The pillars and arches convey that governmental look, and I decided to get a few more shots featuring them.

I liked how the black railings create additional interest for the composition.

And here, finally, is a closer shot of the arches.

As I have said before, the labor cost for this kind of detail would be unheard of in contemporary architecture.  I am just thankful that we've been able to preserve the examples that we have.


1 comment:

  1. great pictures, John. I haven't been on for a while.