September is a time of change, as millions of students and their families begin the new school year. The lazy days of summer are over, and it’s time to hit the books.
Educational projects are some of my favorite to photograph — and some of the most challenging! Being on campus again reminds me of my own school days, and the predictable rhythm it gave to the whole year.
Recently, the Penn Gazette commissioned me to photograph Golkin Hall, a major renovation and addition to the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia. This $30 million, 40,000-square-foot Kennedy & Violich Architects-designed space replaced a bland 1960s building that, by all accounts, won’t be missed.
Working with The Gazette is always a great experience. Their art director gives me the freedom to capture the essence of a place and create images that pop off the page. I’ve photographed for this magazine on several other occasions, including the Singh Center for Nanotechnology and the Lerner Center Music Building.
Photographing educational projects — Golkin Hall included — poses a special set of challenges. University-level construction projects are a high-stakes game. The school spends years planning for each new project, soliciting millions from important alumni, and contracting top architects and construction firms to create and implement a stunning design — all with the hopes of attracting the best students and faculty and boosting the school’s reputation with state-of-the-art facilities.
Images of these valuable projects are vital for attracting publicity, so that the University’s key constituents see the result of all that hard work. It’s our goal to capture the best possible shots while respecting the University’s ongoing teaching and research, and not disrupting the building’s occupants.
At Golkin Hall, we photographed a variety of spaces, from the undulating brick and marble facade, to the spacious new 350-seat auditorium, and the buzzing café and lounge area. For most shots, we were able to pull people into the space to give a sense of scale and life to the design.