Monday, December 23, 2013

Barney's on Broadway

St. Barnabas Church was rebuilt last year after a devastating fire. The architects - Sydney's Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp - were inspired by the work of another very well known architect for their design. Can you guess who? 

Friday, December 20, 2013

A New Icon on Bondi Beach

I love Bondi Beach, but it's not exactly the first destination that comes to mind for photographing modern architecture. Sure, there's Icebergs on the south end which is nice - especially since they recently redid it. But beyond that? Uh… Well, the new building for the historic North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club has just built a must-see architectural icon in this little beach community. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

So we just won an AIA design competition...

I was part of a team that tied for first place in the AIA San Diego 'Balboa Park Centennial Gateway' Competition. Not bad, considering there were 55 entrants to the competition. To be honest, I didn't actually do much to earn a spot on the team. I just took the photos they used for background, and made some suggestions about the pedestrian bridge design on the east end of the park. But the guys at DBRDS did all of the heavy lifting, and were kind enough to include me in their design team for the submission so I've officially won, too. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Liljestrand Residence

Bob Liljestrand, son of the original owners, on the deck of his iconic house. Photo ©Darren Bradley
The Liljestrand House, by Vladimir Ossipoff is one of the most stunning, well preserved modernist homes I've ever had the pleasure of visiting anywhere in the world. The fact that it's also located in my own hometown of Honolulu just makes it that much better. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Children's Museum

The Children's Museum
Photo ©Darren Bradley
I recently did a blog post on San Diego's new Central Library, which was designed by Rob Wellington Quigley. Quigley is one of San Diego's most renowned architects and has done a lot to shape the fabric of our built environment. I had the opportunity to shoot this museum a couple of years ago, so thought I'd put up some of those photos here. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mandel Weiss Forum

Mandel Weiss Forum
Photo ©Darren Bradley

Seems like I've been spending a lot of time at UCSD this year, so apologies for that. But I've had several commissions on the campus. And there's such a rich modernist architectural heritage there, it's really a never-ending source of inspiration for me. So when I'm there for whatever reason, I also often stop by somewhere else on campus for a quick side trip. This was the case for Muir College. And it's also the reason for these shots of the theater district. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Muir College: A Concrete Jungle… errr… Forest

Muir College buildings by Robert Mosher (1969). Photo ©Darren Bradley

The design of Muir College was inspired by Yosemite and the great redwood forests of northern California. Frankly, I don't really see it. But I still think it's a pretty interesting place. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Struck by Modernism: C. Carl Jennings, Artist-Blacksmith

Welcome! Photo ©Darren Bradley
This past spring, my friend Dave Hampton told me about a new museum exhibit he was planning to curate on the artist C. Carl Jennings, for the Mingei International Museum in San Diego. He was planning to visit the late artist's residence in Sonoma County soon, and asked me if I'd join him for the trip. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A new life for an unloved building in La Jolla

Prospect Center
Prospect Center by Thornton Ladd & John Kelsey (1965). Photo ©Darren Bradley
Prospect Center is one of La Jolla's most unloved buildings. Hopefully, that's about to change… 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Coronado Club Room & Boathouse

Oooh, that roof! East elevation, overlooking the beach and Glorietta Bay. Photo ©Darren Bradley
This community center was commissioned by the city of Coronado, who asked local architects Hanna Gabriel Wells to provide a space to provide storage for non-motorized watercraft and access to San Diego Bay, and could also host special events and after-school programs. They nailed it. It won an Orchid for the Architecture category of this year's annual Orchids & Onion Awards by the San Diego Architectural Foundation.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

San Diego gets a real airport, too!

It's not easy making a glass atrium appear bright and light-filled when outside it's dark and grey... Photo ©Darren Bradley
I recently shot San Diego's new airport terminal as part of the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation Orchids & Onions awards. The project is called "The Green Build at Terminal 2". It's part of a multi-million dollar expansion of our dinky airport to bring it up to modern standards, to account for both the draconian security measures that are now the norm at any airport, and to simultaneously try to bring a bit more comfort and humanity to the place by providing fewer chain restaurants and more local fare. I had a short window of about an hour to photograph this place. Naturally, it turned out to be a really crappy, dull, grey day with terrible light. So it was a challenge, to say the least. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A first look at San Diego's new Central Library

San Diego Central Library
I wasn't sure that I liked the library at first. This is what it looked like while still under construction. I loved the drama of the dome and the overall design, but It seemed like there was really just too much going on. After touring and seeing it up close, I'm a convert. It's brilliant. Photo ©Darren Bradley
San Diego has long always been a big city with a small town mentality - but not in a good way. I'm not sure whether it's the fact that much of our population is transitory (many get transferred elsewhere after a few years, and so aren't invested in the community for the long-term) or because we have a lot of conservatives who aren't interested in seeing tax dollars spent on large infrastructure projects. Whatever the reason, our public buildings just aren't at all what you would expect to see for a major metropolitan area with a population of over 3 million. But that's finally starting to change... 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Swimming Pool in Surry Hills

If you zoom in, you can see that lifeguard over there is already giving me the eye. He was on his way over to figure out if I was some kind of pervert and - regardless of the answer, politely but firmly tell me to stop taking photos. Apparently, people are sensitive about other people with cameras at a pool. Who knew? Photo ©Darren Bradley
While in Sydney, I visited the new pool at Prince Alfred Park in Surry Hills. It's a great new project by the firm of Neeson Murcutt Architects. The pool and the park existed already, but they were run down and in need of some love. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Seidler Offices & Apartments

Seidler Offices & Apartments
Front entry of the Seidler Offices & Apartments. Harry loved his curves. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I've already talked about Harry Seidler a few times on this blog. I even wrote an article about the house he built for his parents shortly after immigrating to Australia.  After that first, groundbreaking project, he went on to have a brilliant international career. I realized I have enough photos of some of his other projects to put up another article or two. 

Canberra, or "The World's Largest University Campus"

The Shine Dome
Locals refer to this building as "The Martian Embassy", due to its unusual form
and the fact that Canberra is the Nation's Capital and where all the embassies are located. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Tell an Australian that you're going to Canberra and they usually chuckle and shake their heads in pity - especially if they're from Melbourne or Sydney. You see, Canberra has a reputation as sleepy town where nothing much of interest ever happens, and there's nothing to do or see. Knowing this, I arranged to spend as little time there as possible. That was a mistake. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Lab with a View

Gould Evans teamed up with local firm Delawie Architects for this new project on the cliffs overlooking La Jolla. Photo ©Darren Bradley.
Last night was the annual Orchids & Onions event, put on the the San Diego Architectural Foundation. One of the standouts and Orchid winners was this project, above. I've been a volunteer for this organization for several years now, photographing many of the winning projects. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to shoot this one.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Other Centra(l) Park

Central Park Sydney
My friends Guy Wilkinson and Rory Toomey (both in the lower left) giving me a tour of the new project. Photo ©Darren Bradley.
Sydney's latest neighborhood renewal project is in the heart of what was once a fairly modest, working class area called Chippendale, on the site of a former brewery. To ensure its success, the developers commissioned a starchitect to design it - Jean Nouvel

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The latest addition to the Sydney architecture scene

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Museum of Contemporary Art by Sam Marshall opened in March 2012. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I was excited to finally see the new Museum of Contemporary Art when I passed through Sydney a couple of weeks ago. It's a beautiful building that works very well, functionally. I quite like the design. Of course, it's easier to appreciate if you don't know the story leading up to it. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)
South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), by Woods Bagot, sits perched like an alien spacecraft next to Adelaide's main railway station. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I've been to Adelaide several times, for both work and vacation. I rarely take many photos there because, frankly, there's not a lot of modernist architecture to speak of. It now appears that the city is trying to change that. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Box

Melbourne Recital Centre
Melbourne Recital Centre by Ashton Raggatt McDougall. Photo ©Darren Bradley
As you may have noticed from my previous two posts on Melbourne, the design team of Ashton Raggatt McDougall have been on a bit of a tear in that city for some time. This studio has landed some of the most prestigious commissions in Melbourne, including this Recital Centre above. I liked this building as soon as I saw it, but I was also a bit confused by it. I couldn't understand the shape of the white forms on the facade. Then I spoke to some of the locals and they explained it to me. You won't believe what they represent... 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Firing for effect

RMIT Swanston Academic Building
RMIT Swanston Academic Building in Melbourne was designed by Lyons Architecture and completed in 2012. Corbett Lyon is from Melbourne, but he worked for a time under Venturi Scott Brown in the US. Photo ©Darren Bradley.
The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (known to everyone as simply RMIT) is another university in the heart of Melbourne. It wears its credentials as a leading institution for architecture and design on its sleeve, as it were... Many of its campus buildings make bold architectural statements. RMIT's influence can clearly be seen across Melbourne today. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Southern Cross Station
Southern Cross Station. Photo ©Darren Bradley
First off, apologies for the long absence. I was in Australia again, as I mentioned earlier. I had this crazy idea that I would be diligently taking photos and editing them and posting them to new blog entries every couple of days while I was over there. But of course, I didn't do any of that. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Harry Seidler: father of modernist architecture in Australia

My daughter is an expert at photobombing. Photo ©Darren Bradley
When the Austrian-born architect Harry Seidler arrived in Australia after World War II (via North America - that's a long story), he didn't make many friends in the local architecture community. He called the local architecture "sad brick shacks" and poor copies of outdated European architecture. Town councils and distinguished local architects returned the favor, decrying his modernist designs as flimsy and "un-Australian". 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A [Soap] Opera in the Land of Oz

Sydney Opera House
Trying to make the best of a cloudy afternoon. Photo ©Darren Bradley
The Sydney Opera House is one of the most well known, magnificent structures in the world. It's up there with other man-made structures like the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal as a singular achievement for civilization. And like most other great achievements, it was almost never built. In fact, it was quite a soap opera...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

How to take original photos of the Salk Institute

Yes, even me... Photo ©Darren Bradley
OK, that title is meant as a bit of a joke (photographer humor?), because there's probably no such thing as an original photo of this building - and certainly not the one above. In fact, it's the most obvious shot and the one everyone takes. C'mon... if you've been there, you've taken this shot, too. You can't help yourself. And since no series on the Salk Institute is complete without this shot, I thought I'd get it out of the way first thing.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New York City

Manufacturers' Hanover Trust
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Last summer, I took the family back to New York City for a quick trip (just a few days) to attend a family wedding. We didn't have much time to sightsee (or do much photography), but I did bring my camera, of course, and take some shots while running around town. There are many, many modernist landmarks to see and photograph in that fair city. This is only a random sampling of them. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Coolest Restroom in San Diego

Ocean Beach Comfort Station
Photo ©Darren Bradley

Last fall, while volunteering as a photographer for the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation Orchids & Onions Awards, I was asked to photograph a public toilet. I wasn't terribly excited about the assignment, but we were under a time crunch so I agreed to stop by on my way home that day and take some shots. It turned out to be the coolest public beach restroom I've ever seen.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Galbraith Hall: A new life for a classic modernist building

Galbraith Hall auditorium by Kevin deFreitas. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Local San Diego architect, Kevin deFreitas, was recently asked by the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) to put a new auditorium into one of the first buildings on the campus, Galbraith Hall. What he created with a meagre budget has literally transformed the space - while still managing to respect its mid-century modernist roots -and almost makes me wish I was still a student. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Apology for Brutalism

UCSD Geisel Library
UCSD Central Library (aka Geisel Library) by William Pereira & Associates (1970). Photo ©Darren Bradley
I have been on the campus of UCSD quite a bit lately, shooting several other projects (including several of the original campus buildings by Risley & Gould). Like many universities that were built in the late 60s and early 70s, there are many examples of concrete brutalist structures. Like most people, I once hated concrete brutalism for its seeming drab, dreary exposed concrete and simple, oppressive, heavy forms. It's probably the reason most people will tell you that they dislike modernist architecture today. But I've now come to love this largely misunderstood style, and so should you. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Risley & Gould

The breezeway connecting Mayer and Bonner Halls in Revelle College, University of California at San Diego, was designed by Risley & Gould (1968). Photo ©Darren Bradley
The LA-based architecture firm of Risley & Gould designed a number of projects on the campus of the University of California at San Diego (primarily at Revelle College). Their breezeway (above and below), is my favorite structure on campus (along with the library). 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Architectural Disaster?

The Copenhagen Opera House opened in 2004 to much controversy, and has been widely panned by critics and the design community. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I just learned that the architect Henning Larsen died on the 22nd of June of this year, just a few weeks ago. He was 87. This gave the the opportunity to think about his work and legacy. Larsen will likely be most remembered for his opera house in Copenhagen. I'm sure he would have preferred it otherwise. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Observing Le Corbusier

A stolen moment. I caught a glimpse of this girl peering out a window of Corbusier's Villa La Roche, making a sketch of something across the alley. Photo ©Darren Bradley
It's probably impossible to talk about modernism in France without bringing up Le Corbusier... in the same way that it's pretty much impossible to avoid mentioning Frank Lloyd Wright in any discourse about modern architecture in the US. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My France

It's probably ironic to celebrate the French national holiday with a photo of a building by a Swiss architect, but there you go.
Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye (1928-31) in Poissy, France. Photo ©Darren Bradley
In honor and celebration of the France's national holiday, I thought I'd post a few of my photos from my time spent there. What Americans call Bastille Day (the French don't ever call it that) is not really celebrated in the same way in L'Hexagone. It's a time for the military to polish their weapons and parade down the streets of cities throughout the country. But otherwise, the French consider it to just be another day off from work (unless it happens to have the misfortune to fall on a weekend, such as this year). 

More Richard Meier

Approaching the front entrance. Photo ©Darren Bradley
After visiting Richard Meier's Getty Center last week, I was reminded of our own Meier building here in San Diego. Alas, it's not quite as entertaining or culturally significant as, say, a world class museum. But it is certainly a welcome addition to our downtown core. It's the new federal courthouse. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Sheldon Residence

Sheldon Residence
The Sheldon Residence living area with Malm fireplace. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I was recently asked by my friend, Keith York at Modern San Diego, to photograph a new listing of his. The Sheldon Residence in Fletcher Hills was coming on the market for the first time. I'd long admired this house so I jumped at the chance.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Is it an Orchid or an Onion?

Ocean Beach Comfort Station
2012 Orchid Winner, the Ocean Beach Comfort Station, by Kevin deFreitas. Photo ©Darren Bradley
It's coming up to that time of year again, when an esteemed jury of local architects, designers, and community leaders gathers together - along with the city as a whole - to take a look at the best and worst of new buildings, public art, and community planning in San Diego.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Krisel Residence

The Krisel Residence
Krisel Residence watercolor rendering by William Krisel, from 1955. From the Krisel Archive at the Getty Research Institute.
The positive feedback about this house has been overwhelming since I posted this rendering on my Flickr page a few weeks ago. I also had a fair number of questions about it, and people wondering whether it had ever been built. Well, the answer to that question is a definite YES, and here are the photos to prove it...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A day at the Getty

J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo ©Darren Bradley
I spent this past Saturday at the Getty. Like the De Young, which I visited a few weeks ago, the Getty is another museum that I have visited many times but have never really had the time or opportunity to photograph properly. And like my last visit to the De Young, this wasn't going to be that time, either. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Anatomy of an Architectural Photograph

Sunbelt Building by KMA Architects (2003) in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood of San Diego, CA. Photo ©Darren Bradley

I was just informed this week that the above photo won the Silver Medal for the Advertising / Architecture category in an international photo competition called the Prix de la Photographie Paris. It's a nice honor, and I am happy about it (especially since there were no gold medals awarded, so technically I could say that I received top honors! (it's all about how you spin it, right?). But that's not why I'm writing about this photo or the contest here. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Finn Juhls Hus

Finn Juhls Hus
Finn Juhl's House. Photo ©Darren Bradley
While visiting Denmark back in 2011, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the personal residence of the architect and designer, Finn Juhl. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Toronto City Hall
Toronto City Hall, by the architect Viljo Revell (1960 - 1965). Photo ©Darren Bradley
I recently went back to Toronto for a quick visit. My mother is from there and I spent many summers there as a kid (I know better than to visit in the winter). But I hadn't returned since the late 80s and the city has changed quite a bit. In fact, I barely recognized some neighborhoods. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

William Krisel

Pacifica House
William Krisel-designed home in San Diego. Photo ©Darren Bradley

Modernism was initially meant to be a popular movement. It is not just a design or an aesthetic but a way of life. Its early promise was to improve living conditions for the average person and make houses and objects more affordable through efficiencies gained in streamlined and simplified production techniques. Alas, it has never quite lived up to this promise.

The work of William Krisel is a rare exception to this rule. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A visit to the de Young Museum

The fog's rolling in...
Watching the fog and clouds overtake the museum at the end of the day. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I've been to the de Young museum many times, but it always seems to be a quick visit - just to spend an hour or two. I've never really been able to spend the time I'd like to seriously photograph it. And this trip was not that time, either.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Embarcadero Center

Photo ©Darren Bradley
San Francisco's Embarcadero Center, at the foot of Market Street in the heart of the city was meant to be a sort of Modernist version of New York City's Rockefeller Center. There was even a Rockefeller involved in the project. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tiki Modern

Humphrey's Restaurant
Humphrey's on Shelter Island in San Diego. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Tiki is a sub-culture of the Modernist era (1930s through the 70s) which really exploded in popularity with the return of many GIs who'd experienced Polynesian and Asian culture for the first time while fighting WWII in the Pacific theater, and fueled by popular novels and movies like South Pacific

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Me, photo by Chris Dodkin
The other day, I was wandering around Carlsbad with a friend, looking for something to photograph, and we decided to visit St. Michael's by the Sea Catholic Church. This well-known landmark was designed by the architect team of Albert Frey & Robson Chambers (See the post on Palm Springs for more on Frey).

Monday, June 3, 2013

Let's do the Time Warp again!

Town & Desert Motel (now The Hideaway)
Photo ©Darren Bradley

When I was in Palm Springs a few weeks ago for the photo festival, I stayed at The Hideaway. This is a tiny little classic modern motel that was built by Herbert Burns in 1947. At the time, it was originally called the Town & Desert Motel.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

New Modernism on the Berkeley Campus

C.V. Starr East Asian Library
Photo ©Darren Bradley
One final post about my quick trip to Berkeley. I spotted this building while walking across campus, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Palm Springs Photo Festival

Palm Springs City Hall

I spent the first week of May in Palm Springs for the annual Photo Festival. Each year in the spring, thousands of photographers - both amateurs and professionals - descend on this small desert city for the opportunity to eat, sleep, and play all things photography. For me, anyway, it's a rare opportunity to get to spend three or four days focused only on making photos, without having to worry about family or work obligations. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Modernism at Cal

Cesar Chavez Student Center
Photo ©Darren Bradley

Berkeley is essentially the opposite of everything that UCSD represents in terms of architecture.  The campus has an extensive heritage of historical buildings dating back to the second half of the 19th century. I didn't take any photos of those. 

UCSD: A Built History of Modernism

Photo ©Darren Bradley
One of the greatest collections of modern architecture in the country is right in my backyard. The University of California at San Diego is like a museum of modern architecture, from the 60s through the present day. And what makes it even more unique is that there is not a single example of traditional architecture on the campus! 

A Modernist Utopia

10 Greenwood Common
Photo ©Darren Bradley

Spent the weekend up in Sonoma recently to do a photography project for the Mingei Museum. I'll post more details about that project as I'm able, but don't want to ruin the surprise...