Archive for October, 2010

Space Cadet

Friday, October 15th, 2010

These days, it’s so much easier to zip around the planet.

While sitting in San Francisco, preparing for final photography on SOM’s China World Trade Centre, the tallest building in Beijing, I dropped in for a quick spin around on the computer. Having watched the building come out of ground and gradually rise to completion over the past five years, I already knew where most of my vantage points would be. But I was looking to solve a specific problem that couldn’t be dealt with from the ground.

My main concern was finding an overall view from the south which showed the full height of the new building without having it chopped off at the knees by the earlier buildings in the development. I’d seen some views from directly across the road which not only flattened the facade of the new tower too much but also hid a good portion of the base behind the older 20+ story China World Hotel.

Consulting the online material, I identified an angle that could work for what I wanted. All I needed now was a building in the right spot!

According to the satellite images there was definitely something built there but we couldn’t go about establishing access until the day of our arrival in Beijing. Further scouting revealed that the building was undergoing a fairly brutal renovation (or possibly total demolition). Our extraordinarily well-connected client liaison went to work on the phones and a short time later, we’d booked safe passage to the rooftop.

The resulting images showed the context of the iconic new tower within the existing China World Trade Centre and firmly established it as the focal point of Beijing’s new Central Business District.

We had followed the autumnal sun as it tracked low in the southern sky, picking up details at ground level as the sea of commuters arrived for work. Up close, these tall towers create an entirely different experience from the distant views. The richness of the textures and the scale of the materials work to amuse the passers by in a much more engaging way.

Later in the day, as dusk approached, we ventured even further afield to another rooftop view to the tower.