Monday, November 12, 2012

Cathedrals of Commerce

Monticello Arcade East Lobby, 2012
(Click on images to see larger)

Three years ago I wrote about my love affair with theMonticello Arcade, in Norfolk, Virginia.
I like to visit the Arcade when I’m downtown. It’s smaller and less ornate than the great gallerias of Milan and Naples. But it’s still a grand public place precisely because of its relative intimacy compared to those magnificent cathedrals of commerce.  
There are a few places like the Monticello Arcade left in the United States. Cleveland has one. Providence, Rhode Island, too. Because of their age and because they were built before the automobile became the dominant form of transportation, arcades like these do not have the cache of modern office building, what with their covered parking, gyms and faceted windows. But for smaller businesses—the Monticello is occupied mostly by law firms and shipping agents—these old arcades are wonderful space.  
 Monticello Arcade East Detail, 2012

During the daytime the Monticello Arcade has a wonderful light. Many of the offices on the upper floors make heavy use of incandescent light, which give the atrium a wonderful warm glow.
Through the years I’ve photographed the Monticello Arcade with different cameras and lenses and in color and black-and-white. When I was there the other day there was scaffolding in the atrium, so I didn’t take pictures than show the whole space. Because I was concentrating on making images that give the viewer an impression of both the detail, style and lines of the structure, it also seemed appropriate to process these photographs in black-and-white rather than have their composition distracted by color.  

Monticello Arcade Railing, 2012

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