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Photographing Monumentality and Light: Three Landmarks

Photo courtesy of Alan Karchmer.

Photographer Alan Karchmer’s recent commissions provided opportunities to document three important new buildings: the National Museum of African American History and Culture by Freelon/Adjaye/Bond/SmithGroupJJR, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub by Santiago Calatrava, and the Levin Neural and Behavioral Sciences Building at the University of Pennsylvania by SmithGroupJJR. 

Join us at the District Architecture Center as Karchmer presents architectural photographs of these projects and discusses the creative solutions he developed to address the complex aesthetic, logistical, and technical challenges of the assignments. Each of these distinctly different projects responds to a strong urban context with significant relationships to important works of architecture. In each building the play of light is highly relevant. It was imperative to show human interaction with each building, while tackling the challenge of large crowds. Editorial and promotional demands made it necessary to complete some of the photography of each of these buildings well before they were ready for the camera.  All three were photographed in multiple sessions over several months.

About the presenter:
In a career spanning over 35 years, Alan Karchmer’s photographs have been published in the architectural press worldwide, appeared in major museum exhibitions, and helped his clients win design award competitions ranging from international to regional venues. His clients include AIA Gold Medalists and Architecture Firm Award winners.


After attending this course, participants will be able to:
1. Describe the process of photographing a building over the course of several months to create a unified image of a building;
2. List the challenges of architectural photography in an urban context, including crowds and lighting;
3. Explain the relationship between the three buildings Karchmer photographed and other significant architectural landmarks; and
4. Discuss some of the choices the photographer made in light of editorial and promotional demands.