Sunday, July 14, 2013

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. 

The west elevation is perhaps the most "Meier-like" side of the building, and really emphasizes its narrow footprint. The tall, dark beige building behind it is the federal prison. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Long-time residents of San Diego will know that this new courthouse is a long time in coming. It was originally planned to be built over ten years ago. Here's an article announcing that it would finally be built after years of delay... The article was written in 2005 But the Federal government works at its own pace, and there were also several lawsuits and budget crises that caused various delays. Construction finally began in 2010 and it was completed around the first of November of last year (2012). 

It's interesting how, seen from this side (north east), the building appears much wider. Photo ©Darren Bradley
In this culture and climate of fear that we live in these days, most government buildings (especially federal) seem to be built like fortresses or bunkers. So its refreshing to see one that's so open to the street, with so much glass.

United States Federal Courthouse
Photo ©Darren Bradley
It was initially planned to be 22 storeys tall, but was pared down to 16 (those budget cuts, again!). 
I love those wings wrapping around the west and north sides. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Here's another shot from the west (street) elevation. Probably the most Meier-like side of the building, and very similar to the tram station elevator structure at the Getty

Took this shot while walking by on my way to a meeting.
Shot with an Olympus Trip 35 vintage point & shoot film camera and Fuji slide film. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Here's the tram station from the Getty:
That wing on the right of the building is clearly drawn by the same hand as the one on the side of the courthouse. Photo ©Darren Bradley
If you look closely at the right side of that photo of the courthouse that I took with the little film camera, you can see that it hints at something unexpected in the plaza on the other side of the building... the entrance hall. 
The main entry is located in a glassed-in atrium at the end of a long ramp from Broadway, and overlooks this pedestrian plaza. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Sitting at the southeast corner of the building, the delicate, transparent curvaceousness of the structure is sexy, and a nice contrast to the severe right angles of the rest of the building. 

Not your typical federal courthouse building. Photo ©Darren Bradley
There's no access from the plaza here. The main entrance is at the top of a long ramp (seen above, in upper right corner here). Photo ©Darren Bradley
I walk through here fairly often, and the it seems like most of the people working in the building like it quite a bit. But I do hear a frequent complaint about how there are no stairs to make it easy to get from the entrance/exit to/from the plaza. Instead, you have to walk down a series of long ramps through hedgerows such as this gentleman:

Negotiating the hedge maze ramps down into the plaza. Very grainy because of the high speed of the film I was using.
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Here's a shot to show the nice contrast between the two structures:
Another shot taken with my point & shoot film camera. Photo ©Darren Bradley
And while we're looking up, here's a shot of the south west elevation...
Again with 35mm slide film, taken with a vintage early 1970s Olympus point & shoot.
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Since I've not had the pleasure (or the misfortune) of being inside, I don't have any interior photos. Instead, I'll leave you with this parting shot:
Photo ©Darren Bradley

No comments: