Posted tagged ‘public buildings’

Awestruck at the Library of Congress

February 21, 2015

The first time I visited the Library of Congress was in late 2005 (ten years ago, yipes!), when my camera club was able to arrange a field trip for us, complete with tripod permission. I didn’t know what to expect. When I walked in, I was speechless. So when I returned last month for another field trip, I understood completely when a young Australian  woman who had just entered said simply, “Oh my God” on looking up.

Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

One of two bronze statues on the ground floor of the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress opened in 1897 and serves as the research arm of Congress. The Main Reading Room is open to members of the public only two days a year; the rest of the time, you need a Reader Identification Card which is valid for two years and obtainable on application. Photography is allowed (without tripods) on the floor on the two Visitors Days each year, and from a gallery above during other times.

There is an abundance of information online about the Jefferson Building’s artistic glories so I will not try to reproduce all of it here. Suffice it to say that the building is a marvel in both substance and aesthetics. Do not miss it if you are headed to our nation’s capital.

One Eleven Sutter, San Francisco

October 25, 2013

In July, while on a visit to San Francisco, I made a point of seeking out interesting buildings – and other parts of city life – to photograph. Before leaving home, I Googled “San Francisco architectural photography” and discovered Thomas Hawk’s great website, with tons of suggestions. I did visit some of the places he suggested and will share images from them later.

But today’s post is about a building I stumbled upon on my own one afternoon, on my way to meet my son, who works in the Financial District. It’s located at 111 Sutter Street, and while technically its rather pedestrian name is the Hunter-Dulin Building, its provenance is anything but pedestrian. It was originally built in 1926, and the “French Romanesque” entryway fits that description.

Hunter Dulin Building, 111 Sutter Street

Romanesque arches on one side of the entry to the building, elaborately carved in stone.

A carving of Mercury stands at the middle of the two banks of revolving doors at the entry to 111 Sutter Sreet.

A carving of Mercury stands at the middle of the two banks of revolving doors at the entry to 111 Sutter Sreet.

With this amazing entry fronting on the street, I couldn’t resist walking in. Inside were even more spectacular sights.

111 Sutter Street, Hunter Dulin Building

A view back towards the street from the back of the lobby at 111 Sutter.

The ceilings were hand painted, and glorious.

A close up of some of the painted details on the lobby ceiling, framed by a marble column.

A close up of some of the painted details on the lobby ceiling, framed by a marble column.

One Eleven Sutter (7 of 9)

Another angle on the ceiling, this one including one of the chandeliers.

The building was renovated and made more earthquake-proof in 1999-2000, but they kindly left one of the old mail chutes in the lobby for visitors to admire.

A non-functioning but gorgeous old mail chute in the lobby.

A non-functioning but gorgeous old mail chute in the lobby.

Internet research reveals that the most famous tenant of the building was Dashiell Hammett’s detective,  Sam Spade.  The lobby alone is so gorgeous I stopped by twice, and the security guard was happy to let me take photographs. My main regret was that the light was very low and I didn’t have a tripod, so most of my DSLR shots were taken while bracing myself against a wall, and even those turned out somewhat blurry. But I trust you’ll get the picture (so to speak).

I’ll close with two shots which I took with my iPhone in a bank just around the corner – which connects with 111 Sutter through their lobbies during the week. Those 1920’s buildings were something, and San Francisco is to be commended for preserving them.

The Wells Fargo bank right around the corner from the Hunter Dulin Building is equally spectacular.

A bank right around the corner from the Hunter Dulin Building is equally spectacular.

My last shot in this bank - I was then halted by bank personnel asking me not to take any more photos for security reasons. So I won't identify the bank - but its architecture was stunning.

My last shot in this bank – I was then halted by bank personnel asking me not to take any more photos for security reasons. So I won’t identify the bank – but its architecture was stunning.


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