Of course, I’d seen the renderings and some construction images but nothing quite prepares you for that first glimpse of Riverside 66 as you round the corner along the snaking Hai He River in Tianjin. A wry smile crept across my face as the taxi swept along the massive curved facade with its 10,000 panels of glass. Photographing large-scale projects in dense urban areas always provides an interesting challenge, though the sheer size of Riverside 66 added yet another layer of complexity to finding the right images to tell the story.
I’d first laid eyes on the building about six weeks previously as we scouted the site, scoping out potential angles and chasing a few preliminary views that could be used in the build up to the Grand Opening. At that time, the site was still swarming with construction workers rushing to meet the impending deadline for completion. Seeing them dwarfed against the building only served to emphasize the enormity of both the interior and exterior spaces.
One of the strongest views capturing the sweeping north facade happened to be from right in the middle of the street. This camera position was entertaining enough during the relatively calm early morning traffic but became a madcap circus as the evening rush of commuters and shoppers descended upon the area. This photograph though, would become a signature image during the Grand Opening and launch of the building out into the world and we found ourselves returning to capture it in several different lights.
The dramatic scale of the building within the city was really seen best from an elevated position and while the residential towers immediately across the street seemed the most likely opportunity, they too came with their own problems to solve. Dangling your cameras out through a narrow window aperture 25 floors above a bustling street is not something for the faint hearted but as we’d not yet finalized access to the roof our the hotel next door, this seemed like the best option at the time.
The last evening before our departure from Tianjin, we received word that after much negotiation, access had at last been granted to a specific rooftop we hoped would provide a strong view of the north facade. Unfortunately, on what was our last morning in town, the weather had closed in, dashing our hopes for a clear and sunny morning. Furtive glances skyward seems to offer some faint glimmer of hope and for a brief moment, a few tentative fingers of direct light pierced the clouds, brushing across the shimmering facade of Riverside 66 before retreating. The resulting photograph below was just awarded First Prize in the Architecture category of the 2015 International Photography Awards held in New York.