Thursday, September 5, 2013


The Henry Reuss Federal Plaza was completed in 1983.  At the time it came in for a lot of criticism, and frankly it is pretty plain looking, particularly from a distance.

Not only does it look like a big blue box from this angle, but it is nestled in among much older buildings.  Those buildings are not necessarily in great shape, but they were built at a much earlier time when masons took pride in the detail they were able to create with elaborate ornamental brickwork, something that just cannot be duplicated today.

On the other hand, the east side of the building has a "waffle" texture that is not visible from the angle of the above shot (taken from the southwest) and that offers some architectural interest after all.

I have paid two visits to the building.  Here are two similar shots of the waffle side of the building that illustrate the difference that changes in quality of lighting can make.

Although the first shot features a reflection of clouds in some of the building's glass panels, I like the higher contrast in the second shot better.

One of the features that I liked about the building was the fact that the architecture of the older buildings is reflected in the building's paneling, as in the following shots.

Not great, but I did like the wavy, distorted lines, particularly of the fire escapes shown on the left of the first shot.  These shots do not do justice to this feature because I had to stand at street level to get the shots and the reflections were situated several floors up.  It would have been better if I had been able to take the shots from an upper floor of one of the neighboring buildings.

And here is a shot showing a reflection of part of the building in an adjoining "facet" of the waffle.  Just OK, I thought.

The north side of the building is also its backside, if you will.  The full length of that side is on an alley between the plaza building and a much older nondescript building to the north.  The main loading dock for the building is also situated on that side.  However, the attraction on that side is, actually, its flat uninterrupted surface.

My goal with this shot was two-fold.  First, I wanted to capture the reflection of the neighboring building showing in the lower left, and  I thought that came through nicely.  Second, I wanted to emphasize the uninterrupted surface of the remainder of the plaza building.  In this regard, I considered cropping the shot down to eliminate the sky visible in the upper right of the image, to give, perhaps, the impression that the building went on indefinitely.  I tried that look, but decided that it seemed a bit cramped.  Either that or it just didn't go on far enough to appear "potentially infinite."  This was OK.

Incidentally, on my second visit I was approached by one of the building's security guards, who asked me if I was a photographer.  I pointed to my camera and said that I was.  He wanted to know why I was taking pictures, but when I asked if it was OK, he admitted that it was.  He pointed out that the building did house federal offices, which I knew.  His only caution was that I should not take any photos of the building's loading dock, which basically looked like any loading dock anywhere.  Not a problem, I said.

Here is another shot that I took from the alley.  It features a pedestrian skywalk leading from the plaza building to the building to the north.  I liked how the plaza building was framed in the structure of the skywalk.

This building is by no means an architectural masterpiece, but it does have some aspects of interest.



  1. I am intrigued with your photos of buildings and the angles you take. Great

  2. I am glad it was an enjoyable experience for you. I think that you should definitely do it again sometime and hopefully I will be able to make it to that one.

  3. perhaps next time you should get some shots of the interior. It is actually two seperate towers inside the blue box with a beatifull atrium and lots of natural lighting with an art gallery in the lobby.