University of Iowa Children's Hospital / Construction Photography

   I have been documenting the progress of the University of Iowa Children's Hospital expansion this year and wanted to share some of the progress.  It is really interesting to me to see the projects as they go up.  We get views of the building that will only last a few months and will never be seen again.  Construction photography is the exhilarating process of capturing these moments that are quickly fleeting.


  This Knutson Construction crew worked through one of the hardest winters Iowa has seen in over 75 years!  They are an extremely hard working bunch of guys who are constantly recognized for their craftsmanship and safety in such a dangerous job.


   Below is a rendering of what it will look like when it is completed.  

Convention Center Parking Garage / Cedar Rapids / Architectural Photography


Lately I have been experimenting with different styles of the architectural photography dusk images.   Over the last few years I would typically only shoot in specific weather conditions at a specific time during the magic hour.  I had normally been waiting until well after the sun goes down and then waiting some more before I start shooting.  This would yield me a very rich dark blue sky, the buildings would really pop out at you.  The colors would shine without bumping the saturation much. You can see an example of this type of dusk shot here.   I really love the look this technique gives me and I don't plan to leave it behind.  I plan to putting it in the metaphorical photography tool belt if you will.  As a photographer, or any type of creative individual for that matter, experimentation is an essential element.  It keeps the art fresh, puts me on my toes, and exercises the mind.  I love this quote from the Hungarian painter/photographer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, "The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of 'how to do.' The salvation of photography comes from the experiment." 


The day these images were made was completely overcast and raining off and on.  The shoot was only a few hours from my office so I decided to go for it with hopes of a perfectly timed cloud break so I could make the images I saw in my mind.  Well that didn't happen.  What did happen as I was walking around studying the structure was I began to see a mood.  A mood that I would have normally written off.  I remembered the quote I shared with you about photographic experimentation and decided to go for it.  I had been in the experimentation mode lately anyway, and nature was providing me another opportunity for it.  I made these images well before the sun went down.  The overcast sky created a heavy handed soft-box over the whole city.  I always say photography is a problem solving profession.  This shoot is an example of that fact.  My client Knutson Construction was on a tight deadline needing these images right away for an award submission and there was no other opportunities for us to shoot a different day.  Overall I love these images and now the AJ Brown Imaging architectural photography tool belt is a little heavier.  




Architectural Photography at the Cedar Rapids Amphitheater

Let me just start off by saying, I absolutely love Cedar Rapids!  This city was hit with a devastating flood in 2008 which I have blogged about several times.  Since the flood 5 years ago, Cedar Rapids has been going through a major downtown renewal period.  They have renovated many buildings, built a new library, convention center, education center, and the list goes on and on and on.  This is the newest addition to this booming city, The McGrath Amphitheater.   It is located right on the banks of the Cedar River with plans to extend the river walk from the amphitheater down to the festival grounds in the near future.  


The theater has the capacity to host 4,600 visitors at any given point.  They plan on holding concerts of all kinds as well as many different city events and activities at the amphitheater.   The project also serves as a new form of flood protection for the west side of the city which previously had none.  It's a beautiful place and a great example of combining the needs of the project with a creative solution.


Since this is ultimately a photography blog, I often like to mention the problems that arise while shooting specific projects and the solutions/decisions I had to make.  I decided to minimally light the image above because the existing lighting is such a major part of the project.  We only needed to bring in a little supplemental lighting on grass and the side of the stage.  This was a balancing act because I didn't want it to look like we lit the scene at all.  We wanted to show off how nice the lighting setup was designed in the first place so we didn't want to take away from that at all. 

Honestly the biggest issue during this shoot was keeping people off the stage!  I think people are really excited about the project, so all day and night there were people aimlessly wondering around in my shots!   Hahaha, can't blame them though. 

In Progress Architectural Photography / Cedar Rapids Public Library


 After the flood of 2008 Cedar Rapids downtown was devastated by water damage.  The old library was ruined and now, after lots of hard work, houses the corporate headquarters of the insurance company True North.  The library was scaled down and functioning with several satellite locations until now. The brand new Cedar Rapids Public Library is set to be completed within a few weeks!   The public grand opening will be on August 24th.  I had the pleasure to photograph the new building for Knutson Construction a few weeks ago to get some in progress images.  The building was designed by OPN Architects and had a total project cost of 48 million dollars.



This library is huge with 94,000 square feet of space!  The building is Leed certified and is expected to meet the platinum performance level.  It supports a beautiful rooftop garden with seating areas for readers to enjoy the libraries massive new book collection while taking in the sites from above downtown Cedar Rapids.  There is a local coffee shop called Brewed Awakenings that is set to operate the library coffee shop and service the drive though window for readers on the go.


   There is even a 200 person theater in the library where they will hold book readings, concerts, plays and many other local events!  The Cedar Rapids Public Library when completed is said to have the possibility to be one of the best libraries in the entire country.   After 5 years of waiting, the people of Cedar Rapids are celebrating the revival and restoration of downtown with the newest addition being their brand new library.