Archive for June, 2008

Steam Room

Friday, June 27th, 2008

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Work continues at the California Academy of Sciences with the Tropical Rainforest dome in final stages of preparation for the introduction of some birds. The glass panels have deliberately not been cleaned to make the surface more visible to the birds while they settle in. The plants are growing well with the help of additional UV lights to supplement the daylight streaming through the portholes. The misters are keeping the warm air moist and the refilled tank should soon be hosting it’s first fish.

Outside the rainforest dome, the massive skeleton of a blue whale is being carefully assembled and hoisted into place. It will eventually hang from the ceiling of the southern exhibit space.

The skeleton needed to be delivered in several truckloads. Part of the skull, shown below, barely fitted through the doors. The even larger jawbones were delivered the next day.

Over in Africa Hall, the dioramas are almost complete.

There is something a little unnerving about looking up from the camera and seeing a 600 pound gorilla out the corner of your eye. The lush moss in the exhibit had been freshly placed so that damp, woody smell permeated the immediate surrounds.

The penguins are well settled into their new enclosure and not in the least fazed by the constant attention being lavished upon them.

Meanwhile the Living Roof just keeps growing.


Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

At Stanford University in California, the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Engineering Building designed by Boora Architects has been open just a few months. This new building, the first of three that Boora have designed for the campus, sets a new standard in sustainability for Stanford.

Four atria around the L-shaped building act as oversize light wells, pulling daylight all the way down to the basement labs. These atria also acts as the lungs of the building, regulating the flow of fresh air through ground floor windows by opening and closing vents on the roof.

Light shelves along the external walls bounce light up and into adjacent classroom and offices, minimizing the need for incandescent sources. Extensive use of glass on all levels provides a sense of lightness and transparency right thoughout the building.

From a photographic perspective, documenting sustainable buildings provides a few new challenges. One of the major considerations in these designs is maximizing the use of natural light. Relying more on this natural light gives the images a different quality to what one normally expects from architectural photography. In many areas, the fact that several of the overhead lights were not switched on was actually a positive representation, strange though it felt to leave them this way for the shot.

The way the users of the building interacted with the natural lighting also became a prominent part of the pictorial documentation. These images required fairly quick response times, not only for the movement of the people but also for the movement of the light source itself. For the few days we were on site, it became a matter of just walking through the building and making the most of whatever activity happened to be going on at the time.



Tuxedo Juncture

Friday, June 6th, 2008

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Over at the Academy of Sciences, the penguins are settling in to their new surrounds. For the first few weeks the Academy’s biologists are conducting a behavioral study (hence the tape on the windows), making sure the new tank meets the demanding standards of the new inhabitants. All seems to be going well so far.

There was some talk of the birds being a little on the quiet side and it was suggested that they might have been missing the constant parade of people coming by each day. They certainly seemed amused by our cameras and lost little time in lining up for their close-ups.

Elsewhere in Africa Hall, work continues on the various diaoramas, providing some truly surreal pictorial moments.