Tag Archives: architectural photography

Helsinki Files 10: Forever Finlandia



I know, right? Sorry, but it would kill me not to share a few more of my Finnish memories, however distant they may be. Especially this Alvar Aalto classic: Finlandia Hall.


From the outside, this triumph of modernism appears as a jumbled composition of masses, protruding and gliding through and across one another. It is, as you would expect, white Carrara Marble from Italy.




The fascinating patterning of the marble is not as purposeful as you may think. The way each piece bends and curves into each other is actually a side effect of the stone’s expansion and contraction and has caused pieces of the facade to “pop-off” without notice.

How do you say “HEADS UP!” in Finnish?


At night it is illuminated with lights that may or may not change colors… I honestly don’t remember…


The interior of the building, much like the exterior, is classic Alvar Aalto. Warm materials and quiet spaces filled with daylighting strategies and custom luminaires. It is just as lovely as it is simple.



The auditorium seems very futuristic to me. Google it if you like, better pictures than the following exist.


For some reason, nothing is as futuristic as the pre-show lounge. This seems to me like a set out of Bladerunner.




And, as stated earlier, the custom Aalto luminaires:


Interesting wayfinding details:


And tile, in both black and white:



Also, these interesting acoustic panels that look suspiciously like duck feet… What does it all mean?


When paired with a curved wall, the light from the suspended cans cast through the acoustic panels creates wave patterns across the walls.


Such a splendid building. You know you must visit it, so I won’t nag you.


I Lied… But if you aren’t into architecture, at least go to see these puny Christmas trees:


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Helsinki Files 09: Architectural Anatomy

I’ve honestly never heard this song, I just searched “library” and this popped up. It seems surprisingly fitting, so enjoy it.

Helsinki Library cover

I’ve been excited to post about this project since I photographed it. I think it is an excellent example of contemporary Finnish architecture. It is fresh. It is clean. It is quiet. It is fun. It is the Helsinki University Library.

University of Helsinki Library_Exterior 3

The exterior facade is actually sort of confusing and is perhaps my least favorite part of the building. It is by no means bad, but the interior is just so nice. Just wait. You’ll see.

University of Helsinki Library_Exterior 2

University of Helsinki Library_Exterior 1

Once inside the building, you are confronted by this atrium composed of stacked ovals that decrease in size as you move up the building. It is the exact opposite of most building atriums, and is very cool.

University of Helsinki Library_Atrium 2

This post is called “Architectural Anatomy” because, you must agree, this atrium looks like a digestive tract or something. Right???

University of Helsinki Library_Atrium 1

These rings you see from below that make up the atrium are lined with workspace on the levels above.

University of Helsinki Library_Desk facing Atrium 1

It is simultaneously cool and annoying. I suppose it is a cool place to work, but I wish I could walk up to the edge and look down.

University of Helsinki Library_Desk facing Atrium 2

There are also secondary atriums that face those large curves of glazing visible from the facade.

University of Helsinki Library_Secondary Atrium 2

University of Helsinki Library_Secondary Atrium 1

Aside from all these cool spaces that have great sectional qualities, the building is very clean and modern. It is just a nice place to be.

University of Helsinki Library_Chill Zone

Apologies to all the innocent, Finnish students that were photographed and published without their permission. If you have an issue with any of these photographs, please get in touch with my secretary. She will be certain you are compensated for any trauma I may have caused. Her contact info is posted somewhere in this +3 year long blog… good luck finding it…

University of Helsinki Library_Study Space

University of Helsinki Library_Stacks

Though I am not sure if this next photo is taken in an area that qualifies as part of the Helsinki University Library, it illustrates one interesting point. Notice the cold blue of the apertures and the warm glow of the interior. It is fairly common to have very warm materials and lighting in Finnish buildings as it is a reaction to the bitter cold and dark days of winter.

University of Helsinki Library_Warm Interior

Have you ever seen concrete look so warm?

Only a few more Helsinki posts. Be strong. 

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Helsinki Files 06: For those about to ROCK

If you name your church “Church of the Rock”, you should expect to have a Kiss track as your theme song while featured on this blog. Hit play and accept what I’ve done.

Church of the Rock_Night Exterior

Gather round children as I regale you with tails of my travels that happened so long ago that I’ve forgotten the significance of most every photo I’ve taken. This is the tail of the Church of the Rock. In the middle of this neighborhood was a giant rock. The community didn’t mind the rock, but they thought it could be something better. So, they brainstormed as to what the giant rock could be. Eventually, they decided that it should either be a church or a park. After years of arguing about the future of the rock, they decided it should be a church AND a park, so they blew up the giant rock and used the rubble to build a church with a park on its roof. 

(DISCLAIMER: I completely made up the story above. I know nothing about the Church of the Rock other than it is a nice piece of architecture)

Church of the Rock_Concrete Block

From the outside the building is rather understated (which seems typical of Finnish architecture), but the roof is a kinda lovely mix of rocky outcrop and urban park. Church of the Rock_Roof View

The interior is (like most admirable Finnish architecture) is amazing and filled with great daylight. (Apologies for any grainy photos, ISO was way, way to high!)

Church of the Rock_Altar

Structural members shoot out of rubble walls and hold up a shallow, metallic dome. The only element present in this giant space is the balcony which is a sharp, angular block that hovers in the back of the church.

Church of the Rock_Organ

Church of the Rock_Balcony 3

Church of the Rock_Balcony 2

Church of the Rock_Balcony

The view from the balcony is rather nice…

Church of the Rock_View From Balcony

Church of the Rock_View From Balcony2

But, in my mind, it is hard to beat the interesting geometries born from the colliding structural systems.

Church of the Rock_Daylighting_03

Church of the Rock_Daylighting_02


Church of the Rock_Daylighting_01

I doubt that someone would visit Helsinki and not see this church. It seems to be a tourist attraction, and for good reason.

Go here. It is cool.

I’ll try and post again soon, but I’m mostly focused on finishing one last term of grad school. And finding a job. And planning out the rest of my life. And getting rich quick so I can retire ASAP. 

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Rooftops and Randoms

My grandma is in town visiting from Texas and, though she’s lived in Colorado longer than I ever have, she still likes to visit all the popular tourist spots. So, while visiting Pearl Street in Boulder, I brought along my camera to capture some precious memories (<-that’s lame). When the camera wasn’t pointed at my family, it was pointed toward the sky.

roof detail 1

Sometimes its fun to force yourself to photograph just one thing. In this case, rooftops.

roof detail 2

The goal I had set for myself was to depict rooftops without ground lines in every image. This next one got close to cheating, but no ground line = no fault.

pearl street

I like to do little exercises like this occasionally to force myself to think more about composition and less about subject matter. I’ll also sometimes set my camera at a certain focal length and not change it for the duration of the trip. It forces me to photograph things other than my go-to, architectural perspective.

roof detail 3

Sometimes these little exercises just make you notice things you probably wouldn’t have.

Roof detail 5

And other times they’re a way to test your abilities.

roof detail 4

Sometimes you just have to break the rules you’ve set up for yourself. In this case for neons.

neon sign detail

Annnnddd display heads…

display detail

The glass blocks and brick work are just too cool, right? RULES OF THE EXERCISE BE DAMNED!

colorado photos

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I have just recently finished the GHLA book/brochure, which you may view by clicking here.

It was a lot of fun designing the book and developing a strict format that dictated the design of the book but also helped it read more clearly. Like I mentioned earlier, I did all of the photo editing for all of the images featured in the publication and also did a little bit of architectural photography.

Here are a few select spreads from the book that I did some significant work on:


This first spread is the table of contents, highlighting the different project types the firm specializes in as well as the “about” section at the end. Each section then opened with a title page that depicted one of the Founder/CEO’s original sketches depicting that specific project type. Unlike the majority of architects currently practicing, he still continues to make beautiful hand drawings of every project he designs before moving to the computer. So we attempted to highlight this as best we could.

Point of Grace

This is a good example of a project page. We set up some rules for the design of the book that help it read more clearly. The first page of every project began like the left side of the above image. The opening image or “money shot” was always restricted to the same dimensions with the block of information below. The right side of the image was then free from any rules and was arranged depending on the various image numbers and sizes. We tried to include any plans, sketches, or construction drawings wherever applicable.

I also happened to take the above two photographs…

select parks

After the title page, the following pages were all free from rule and again varied depending on the quantity and size of the images.

Again, I happened to take all of the above photos… 

People who say that you should learn by doing aren’t wrong as I feel I have learned so much over the past few months. I am very thankful for the opportunity to work with GHLA in designing this book and look forward to working with them in the future!

Between you and me, you wanna know the best part? GHLA chose a photo that I took to be on the cover! AHHH! I’m like published now! I’m like famous now! Anyone want my autograph?

Design Work

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