Sunday, July 5, 2015


I had been thinking of photographing the Monona Terrace for several weeks and finally made the trip over to Madison last week to get some shots.  This is the (slightly disappointing) result.

The facility was originally conceived by Frank Lloyd Wright as a massive monument on Lake Monona, too massive to ever get built.  The plans languished for decades after Wright's death.  Ultimately, the concept was reworked, particularly on the interior, and, after much debate and controversy, approved for construction as a convention center.  Construction was completed in 1997.  It has become the architectural icon for the city, and Madisonians love it.

The building sits on the shore of Lake Monona, facing east.  The  lakeside facade is impressive and begs to be photographed as reflected off the glass-smooth surface of the lake.  That was not to happen.  First, even though I got over to Madison by 8 a.m., that was much too late for the early morning light that I needed.  Worse, I had a difficult time finding a spot from which to get a shot.  I wound up walking through a yard on private property to get what proved to be a very poor shot--which I didn't keep.  Then it was on to the building itself.

Here, first, is a photo of the exterior from ground level.

This is a classic shot of the lakeside facade, even including a pedestrian for perspective.  And here is a more abstract shot of the scalloping above the windows.

Just trying to be different, I guess.

The roof includes a pleasant open-air reception area.

And on the inland side is a fountain more or less in line between the Monona Terrace and the state capitol.

The interior also has some interesting features.  The basic layout is one that includes a massive open reception area on the curved lake side, with a number of other rectangular reception halls on the interior.

There is a main corridor leading from the inland entrance toward the lakeside reception area, and I caught this shot, one of the more interesting of the session.

And here are a few shots of the lakeside reception area that show off the interesting combination of curves characteristic of the architecture of this facility.

The facility includes a small theater at the south end, and I thought it might present some interesting photo opts.  A little disappointing, but I did get this shot of the theater's ceiling, reminiscent of the underside of an alien spaceship.

Finally, here is a photo looking out of one of the lakeside windows.

Interestingly, this was my favorite shot of the bunch, I think in part because of the framing and in part because of the quality of the light glinting off the exterior pillars.

I was mildly disappointed with this shoot.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, perhaps a little more complexity in the architecture.  Or perhaps I needed to be more creative in looking for opportunities.


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