Buffalo, New York and Exhibiting The Telescope Houses

After working on the Telescope Houses of Buffalo, New York for the last three years, I happily showed the series in Buffalo for the first time last weekend at Dennis Maher’s The Fargo House gallery. When I wasn’t at the gallery, I continued shooting the project and supplemented earlier photographs of the city with new images of neighborhood stores and Silo City. Photographs of the installation and several new images are below.

For more information about the Telescope Houses of Buffalo, New York, check out my recent interview in The Public conducted by University at Buffalo architecture professor Gregory Delaney and a ArchDaily/Satellite magazine feature on the series.

Buffalo Telescope Houses
New photographs of Buffalo telescope houses.

Telescope Houses of Buffalo Opening
The Fargo House on opening night.

Telescope Houses of Buffalo Exhibition at The Fargo House
An installation view.

Niagara Food Plus, Fashion & Footwear

Buffalove Al Madina Mini Mart
Neighborhood buildings featuring convenience stores.

Buffalo Synagogue Sequence
The major disappointment of the trip was the demolition of a former synagogue that had been converted into a church. The above sequence is from 2012, 2014 and my recent visit.

Walking through Silo City

Reviewing Plans in Silo City
Silo City was compelling as ever — this time with original plans, thanks to Isabella Crowley.

The Ohio River in Kentuckiana

Ohio River in the Fog

I spent last weekend in the small Indiana cities that share the banks of the Ohio River with Louisville. Like many small towns along the river, the settlements have surprisingly long histories, with founding dates reaching back into the late 1700s. Over these some 200 years, the Ohio repeatedly left its imprint on the cities. To contemporary eyes the clearest marks are ripples from the Ohio River flood of 1937. The flood affected nearly every settlement along its banks, from its origin at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh to where it meets the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois. In the Kentuckiana region, the Louisville Ohio River gauge reached a record height of 52.15 feet, nearly 30 feet higher than flood stage. For context, the highest the river has reached in recent years was just over 31 feet in 2011, and at time of writing, it is currently at 12.74 feet.

Since the record flood, the cities along the river constructed a mix of earthen and concrete flood walls above the 1937 high water line. Given how prominent these features are in the cities’ histories and built environment, I wanted to spend the few free hours I had to glimpse the cities’ connection with the Ohio. Perhaps some day I will return and start to develop a project that connects to my work upriver in the Pittsburgh area. But for now, that meant I often photographed near the flood walls, but also through sites with connections to the river, like the EZ Food Mart, which is open late to serve the Jeffboat shipyards or Clarksville’s Falls of the Ohio Liquor Store, that takes its name from the nearby waterfalls along the Ohio River.


Through the Flood Barrier

Moby Dick Falls of the Ohio Liquor Store

Through the Flood Barrier

House At Night
Residential Building Gate 5, Jeffboat

Overlooking the Ohio River

On the Wrong Side of the Flood Barrier

EZ Food Mart

Flood Wall

Another Year, Another City

2015 was another year of change. After splitting my time in Chicago and Cambridge over the last couple of years, it’s time to add another city into the mix. Since August, I have been hopping between Chicago and Minneapolis, where I am now an assistant professor of sociology at St. Olaf College. Even with the change in location, I’ve actively worked on several projects, including two which have come to a close. The following includes highlights from that work and a few notes about what I’ll be up to in 2016.

PROJECTS

The Affordable Housing of New York City, New York

Among the most exciting developments of 2015 was the publication of Affordable Housing in New York, edited by Matthew Lasner and Nicholas Bloom. I contributed a photography essay and dozens of additional images to the book. The project extends my work on public housing in Chicago and can be read as a companion to my efforts with Devereux Bowly on the revised and expanded edition of The Poorhouse. Samples from the project can be seen in a New York Times feature and an upcoming exhibition at Hunter East Harlem, details forthcoming.

Melrose Commons - El Jardin de Seline Interior: Thomas Morales and Luis Franco

The Area

Four years into the displacement of more than 400 families by an intermodal freight yard project, few residents remain in “The Area.” Instead, the community better resembles a worksite than a neighborhood. After a productive editing period in 2014, we put editing on hold for the year while I continued to work with residents who have both stayed and settled elsewhere. Even so, the rough-cut material was shown at a couple of events, with more scheduled for 2016. In the spring, I presented a small sample of the material at the Place Hacking Sociology conference at the University of Liverpool, and David Weinberg Photography hosted the first public screening of material from the film as part of its An Invisible Hand exhibition. The Weinberg screening was particularly special, as community activist Deborah Payne was present for the Q&A. I expect we will return to post-production work later in 2016.

Leaving Home

Walking to Play Basketball

The Bloomingdale Trail

In 2009, Paul Smith, Ben Helphand, and I held several conversations that would ultimately result in developing the few images I’d made on the nascent Bloomingdale Trail into a project that I would pursue for the next six years. Now that the underused rail spur has been transformed by its own multi-year construction project, I am concluding the series. I’m sure I will continue to spend time on the Trail, but any future work will be a coda to a project about a semi-wild, semi-public place above Chicago’s near northwest side.

The Bloomingdale Trail

At the Eastern Terminus Looking East from the

Buffalo, New York Telescope Houses

I am nearly three years into working on this small typological project about one of Buffalo’s vernacular architectural modes, the telescope house. Now that I have photographed nearly five dozen of the buildings, I have begun to exhibit the work. This year, I exhibited selections from the project at pinkcomma gallery in Boston, as well as published in Satellite magazine and ArchDaily. An exhibition dedicated to the series will be shown this spring in Dennis Maher’s Fargo House gallery in Buffalo.

Buffalo Telescope Houses

OTHER CITIES

As in previous years, I visited a couple of dozen cities in the United States, much of it in support of my now six-year book project with Michael Carriere about creative solutions to local social problems. Below are photographs from some of those visits, as well as a few from a short trip to Norway and Sweden.

Amsterdam, New York

Residential Block, (Former) Fownes Brothers Glove Factory

Boston, Massachusetts

North End Park, Boston Skyline

Buffalo, New York

Alfy's Mini Mart

Cambridge, Massachusetts

In Cambridge, I spent a lot of time treading around during the area’s greatest recorded snowfall.

Cambridge Street After the Blizzard

Chicago, Illinois

Root Inn Liquors

Cleveland, Ohio

City of Cleveland, Do Not Cut Grass

Detroit, Michigan

In 2014, I posted a photograph of Tyree Guyton’s House of Soul, which had been burned by an arsonist that year. The image on the left is the replacement, as of winter 2015.

New House of Soul Senate Theater, Detroit

Houston, Texas

In Houston, I worked on a small project about development in the city’s Third Ward.

New Construction, Third Ward

Indianapolis, Indiana

Sitting on the Porch, Reading

Göteborg, Sweden

Sauna in Frihamnen (Bathing Culture Göteborg)

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Corner, Looking Out

Minneapolis, Minnesota

I haven’t yet started a formal project in Minneapolis, but I am exploring the city. Now that the weather has turned, I’m especially looking forward to photographing in the snow and cold.

Scene of a South Minneapolis Shooting Lake Ice Hockey

House, Charles Horn Towers

Oslo, Norway

Oslo Street in the Snow, Uranienborg Church

Racine, Wisconsin

Office

St. Paul, Minnesota

Parade View: Black Lives Matter St. Paul

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm at Dawn

Waugh, Indiana

Movie Projected on the Barn, Indiana

To 2016!

Sweden and Norway

Göteborg Landvetter Airport

Last week I traveled through southern Norway and Sweden. Since it was my first visit to Scandinavia, I decided to get a broad sense of the place, rather than work on a specific project. The below photographs are a few of my favorite images of city landscapes that are/were especially important for each city’s past and future. I’ve tried to include a balance of highly visible and less public places.

Göteborg, Sweden

Even though Göteborg had the longest daylight hours of any of the cities I visited, the two times I visited the city were cloudy and dark. The first of these three photographs is raumlabor‘s Sauna in Frihamnen (“Bathing Culture Goteborg”) project. The building opened in 2014 as the first step of the city’s plan to redevelop one of the last remaining (post-)industrial harbor slips. The other photographs are of the Drottningtorget and the downtown pedestrian zone.

Sauna in Frihamnen (Bathing Culture Göteborg)

Gothenburg Central Station at Night Gothenburg Pedestrian Street at Night

Oslo, Norway

I was disappointed to only have one evening of snow on the trip, but the falling snow gave Oslo an etherial quality, softening the buildings and brightening the night sky. Buildings like the Uranienborg Church almost floated above the residential streets that surround them. By morning, the snow turned to a light rain, and I headed to the Norse Folkemuseum to see the Gol Stave Church. The church was built circa 1212 in Gol, Norway and moved to the grounds of the folk museum in the late 1880s after the townspeople built a new church and planned to demolish this one. Later in the day, I visited the Oslo Opera House, a Snøhetta-designed building completed in 2007 that is the anchor of the redeveloping central Oslo waterfront.

Oslo Street in the Snow, Uranienborg Church

Apartment Building in the Snow Gol Stave Church at the Norsk Folkemuseum

Oslo Opera House in the Snow and Rain

Örebro, Sweden

The city of Örebro is about two hours from Stockholm on the highway from Oslo. I stopped there to see an especially old castle and to visit the Svampen, a nearly 200 foot tall water tower with an observation deck and restaurant. Recently renovated, the tower offers excellent views of the development patterns of the smaller city.

Örebro Svampen

View of Örebro from the Svampen View of Örebro, Train from the Svampen

Stockholm, Sweden

Of course, there’s more to see in Stockholm than a few photographs can convey, but I was especially impressed by the older portions of the city. A highlight of the trip was touring the early 20th century Stockholm City Hall and its spectacular mosaics. Even if its Golden Hall is overwhelmingly decorated, the room’s mosaics are somehow both whimsical and straightforward, with grand symbolism and matter of fact representations of once-contemporary life. The other two photographs provide views of the Gamla Stan, one from the City Hall, and the other on the island, with tourists in front of the Obelisk at Slottsbacken and buildings including the Royal Palace and Stockholm Cathedral.

Stockholm City Hall's Golden Hall

Stockholm at Dawn

Tourists, Gamla Stan

Jönköping Region, Sweden

Between Stockholm and Goteborg are the ruins of the Brahehus Castle, a 17th century home designed as a country retreat. High on a bluff overlooking Lake Vättern, the building has sat all but abandoned since the early 18th century.

Brahehus Castle Ruins

Village, Lake Vättern

Back in the Air

I can’t help but conclude with a photograph from my Stockholm to Chicago flight. Since the flight departed in the early evening, we witnessed a sunset that lasted nearly eight hours. This was the view over the Canadian Torngat Mountains.

Torngat Mountains at Sunset

Houston, Texas, the Third Ward, and the Energy Economy

Last week I made a short visit to Houston, Texas during the American Collegiate Schools of Planning conference. When I wasn’t downtown, I spent the majority of my free time in the Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and home to Project Row Houses. The city’s lack of zoning and the neighborhood’s proximity to the central business district are producing new challenges for the community, which is threatened by residential developments that are physically and socially out of character with the neighborhood.

But a visit to Houston wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the region’s many industrial and oil service areas, so I spent an afternoon along the Houston Ship Channel in cities like Pasadena and later stopped by Chevron’s downtown facility.

The following images are highlights from that visit, although I will slowly post others to my Houston set.

The Third Ward

Walking Through Project Row Houses

New Construction, Third Ward

Grand Opening

Residential Juxtaposition, Third Ward

In Town Homes, Ferrari

Beyond the Third Ward

Residential Neighborhood, Valero Houston Refinery

Pasadena Gun Center and Shooting Range

Oil Storage, Truck

Chevron Corporate Office Entrance, Houston, Texas

Aerial Junkyard View

95 Inches of Snow

This time last year, I was engulfed by the Polar Vortex in Chicago, but this year I am in the Boston area for its record snowfall. The region has received nearly 8 feet (2.4 meters) of snow in the last few weeks, and additional precipitation is forecast. Unfortunately, the area’s public transportation infrastructure is woefully underprepared for the deluge, and many municipalities don’t know where to put all of the snow; Boston has even considered dumping it in the harbor. Even so, the accumulation makes for a fresh landscape and is especially peaceful on Cambridge’s side streets at night.

Simmons Hall in the Snow

Cambridge Street After the Blizzard

Where All the Snow Goes

Cambridge Street After the Blizzard

Football in the Snow

Walking, Cambridgeport

Pierce Boathouse, Along the Charles River

Dead End

Another Year of Projects and A Little Travel

Even more than 2013, I spent 2014 working on projects, including the films Almost There and The Area, and photography series about subsidized housing in New York City and Japan’s Tōhoku region. When not working on those projects, I continued to travel through the United States, often to work on my ongoing collaboration with Michael Carriere at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Below, I have included sample photographs from those projects, alongside supplementary images I made in many of the cities I visited throughout the year. As always, you can click through most of the photographs to view them on flickr, alongside many other everyday images.

PROJECTS

Almost There

In 2013, I produced a body of work as Environmental Cinematographer for the ITVS/Kartemquin Films project Almost There. After a year of post-production work, the film made its world premiere at DOCNYC in November. It has since screened at ArcLight Hollywood, and its Chicago premiere will be on January 10, 2015 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Watch for it on PBS later this year.

The Area

I continue to busily work on The Area, alongside editors Brian Ashby and Peter Galassi from Scrappers Film Group. Thanks to the support from the Graham Foundation, the Driehaus Foundation, and the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, we produced more than three hours of edited footage last summer and are preparing for another round of editing early in 2015. Still, I am not done with the project and expect to be filming into 2015. If you are interested in reading about the project, I continue to write a column addressing some of the pertinent issues for BAG News. My next piece will be published in the next few weeks, although you can always check in at the film’s website for updates.

Demolition on Garfield

Untitled

The Subsidized Housing of New York City, New York

This fall I worked on a documentary photography project about subsidized housing in New York that included everything from historic cooperative developments to the public housing projects of the New York City Housing Authority. I will provide more details about that series when it is published as part of a book project next year. In the meantime, I’ve included two images below.

Markham Gardens Kids Walking Through Buildings

Co-op City

Japan

At the beginning of 2014 I flew to Japan for an exhibition of the Isolated Building Studies at Gallery Tanto Tempo, which led to the publication of Isolated Building Studies by UTAKATADO Publishing. Following my time in Kobe, I visited other cities before heading into Tōhoku, the Japanese region critically affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear disaster. Several photographs from the visit are below, and I wrote a lengthy summary of the experience last January.

Cars Upturned by Tsunami, Downtown Tomioka The Post-Tsunami Site of the Ogatsucho Mizuhama Town Center
Trucks Along the River Ishinomaki from Above, with Reconstruction Underway

Aoyama Kitamachi Danchi

OTHER UNITED STATES CITIES

Bay Area, California

George's Market, Haircuts Today

Buffalo, New York

In 2013, I created a small project about Buffalo’s telescope houses, and I continued to work on the project in 2014. The following set of night photographs is a sample of the material I made to extend the earlier work.

Buffalo, New York Telescope Houses at Night

Cambridge, Massachusetts

While I have been mainly using my time in Cambridge to write, I have been working on a small project about the neighborhood of Cambridgeport.

First United Mkt

Chicago, Illinois

In addition to working on The Area and a set of photographs from this year’s polar vortex, I continue to work on a broad body of work about Chicago, from general views of daily urban life to documenting specific events like the Luftwerk/Mas Context installation at Marina City.

Streetlight, In the Snow

Sleeping (on the) Job

Luftwerk's Installation at Marina City, Presented by Mas Context

Cleveland, Ohio

I am working on a typology of post-war residential buildings in the Cleveland area.

Post-War Suburban Homes

Detroit, Michigan

Although I have slowed working on my seven-year project about the Detroit, Michigan area, I still made a few trips to the city.

Ride It Sculpture Park

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

El Alfarero Iglesia Apostolica

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Suburban Minneapolis

New York City, New York

The Padded Wagon, Mayor John Purroy Mitchel Houses

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and its River Towns

I was happy to have enough time in the Pittsburgh area to produce a small project along the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.

Residence, Mitchell Power Station

Providence, Rhode Island

Downtown Providence from the Southeast

St. Louis, Missouri

I was only in St. Louis for a couple of days, but I was excited to be able to snap this aerial image of Granite City, Illinois.

Granite City

To 2015!

Pittsburgh and its River Towns

Residence, Mitchell Power Station

I recently visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to present at the International Visual Sociology Association‘s annual meeting and explore the region. I particularly enjoy working in Pittsburgh, but my time photographing the end of an era in Johnstown instilled an interest in the region’s smaller towns. When I visited Pittsburgh in 2011, I made sure to spend a little time in neighboring borough of Braddock, but I wanted to go farther afield this time. In part motivated to see the borough of Donora, whose 1948 environmental catastrophe raised awareness of the need for clean air regulations, I visited more than a dozen towns in the Monongahela River valley, and then several more along the Ohio River.

Wedged between the rivers and the hills, the towns are similarly caught between the remaining industrial operations and the otherwise increasingly derelict industrial landscape. For every resident who boasted to me about her town’s architecture or community, another would offer warnings about the “bad” part of town or lament the moribund central business district. Braddock continues to capture headlines for its attempts at creative revitalization, but it is easy to see how many residents interpret continuing depopulation and unemployment as foretelling a more desperate future.

There are reasons for some optimism. Pittsburgh is undergoing a renaissance, a few towns are successfully capitalizing on their historic character, and the rivers offer an undeniable beauty. Still, as even the power plants wind down their operations, it’s easy to see how so many are dispirited about the future of the outlying towns.

The following images are selections from my excursions along with a few Pittsburgh images. As always, you can view more photographs on flickr.

Riding Bikes in Braddock

Steel City Appliances

Overgrowth, Mural

Towards Downtown Pittsburgh

Siding House Outline

Jump Rope, Hula Hoop

Downtown Donora, Pennsylvania

South Side Slopes

Fishing Along the Ohio River

Don's Diner

Walking

Train, Residential Street

Along the Monongahela River

Elrama, Pennsylvania

Visiting Japanese Cities

The most challenging portion of my trip to Japan was the time in Tōhoku’s recovering disaster areas, but I spent the majority of my visit in urban Japan. The first half of my trip was structured around Kobe, where I was exhibiting my Isolated Building Studies, and Tokyo served as the base for the second half of the excursion. Whether in Kobe, Tokyo or Sendai, I was excited to have the opportunity to experience Japan’s distinctive urban character alongside some of the most idealistic examples of mid-century architecture — and some of the boldest contemporary styles. The following photographs feature the most typical and atypical locations.

Yaesu Buildings Akihabara Buildings
Representative buildings in the Yaesu and Akihabara districts of Tokyo

Kisho Kurokawa's Nakagin Capsule Tower Kenz? Tange's Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center
Kisho Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower and Kenzō Tange’s Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center, both in Tokyo

Aoyama Kitamachi Danchi
Aoyama Kitamachi Danchi, a social housing development on the edge of Tokyo’s Omotesando commercial district
[Special thanks go to Luis Mendo, who walked me through this district.]

Dior Herzog & de Meuron's Prada Aoyama
SANAA’s Christian Dior Omotesando and Herzog & de Meuron’s Prada Aoyama, both in Tokyo

Harajuku Protestant Church IMG_6780_1
Ciel Rouge Création’s Harajuku Protestant Church in Tokyo and Toyo Ito’s Sendai Mediatheque in Sendai

At Night
A restaurant just beyond Tokyo Station

From the Playing Field
Looking over Kobe from the Hyogo Prefectural Kobe High School

Tokyo Vending Machines Kobe Vending Machine Vending Machines
Ubiquitous vending machines in Tokyo, Kobe and Tokyo, respectively

Along the Street
A typical commercial street near downtown Kobe

Tokyo Street
A typical mixed-use street near Tokyo’s famous Omotesando shopping district