Friday, December 4, 2015

Fort York National Historic Site


The lobby of the new visitors' center by Patkau Architects is elegant, as one would expect from this firm.  Southern sun and skylight slide in through deep but narrow openings so that it diffuses softly from the wall surfaces to create a bright, open public room.  But the structure is literally overshadowed by the Gardiner Expressway.  It's very nearly underneath the elevated highway, such that a clear view of the southern sky and light is impossible.  There will be middays with clear sun and blue sky that leave the center in significant shadow as seen in the photos, above.
One imagines that this center and exhibition space might have been first designed for another part of the side--maybe on the north side of the open field instead of the southern edge. The tilted Cor-Ten panels seem to be shying away from the highway structure, fearful of it.  The lobby peeks through, in between the steel panels, toward light, as if through spread fingers, to protect itself from an impending blow.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Daylight sneaks into Eero Saarinen's chapel on the Concordia College campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana, through two breaks in its roof, and along both sides at the base.  The tall peak of the chapel's long, gabled roof is split to admit daylight from the top of the sky; under that skylight is an array of electric light fixtures.  The roof is also opened on the south side, adjacent to the pulpit to illuminate the service.  This photo was converted from color to black and white, increasing its contrast: the illumination in the room is really much softer.  It's even a little dim. More illumination would bring vitality to the room.

Even sneakier is how the day uprights the steep ceiling inside. The roof overlaps the foundation wall on both long sides of the space so that light is permitted to enter from the sides of the chapel, low, brightening the underside of the roof--but not quite enough.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I delivered a presentation about Gunnar Asplund's Stockholm Public Library and Asplund's use of daylight to generate the building design.  To see a video of the presentation at the 6th Velux Daylighting Symposium in London, use this link: and scroll down to the 3 September 2015 Morning session and you'll find the video.  At this location, you'll also find a brief written version of the presentation.