Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thematic Photographic - Open

Each week Carmi at Written, Inc. has challenged readers with a theme for photographic inspiration. Readers were sorry to hear that Carmi's family recently suffered the loss of his father. Our thoughts are with Carmi and his family in this sad time. This week, courtesy of Mojo, the photographic challenge returns with the theme OPEN.

My OPEN photo is the atrium within the fabled Bradbury Building, on Broadway at 3rd Street in downtown Los Angeles. An architectural gem, the Bradbury was built in 1893, designed by George Wyman. Wyman was a draftsman who worked for the original architect commissioned by Lewis Bradbury, a silver-mining tycoon. Wyman was appointed the job after Bradbury rejected the first design.

There's an odd story about Wyman - he is said to have consulted his deceased brother, Mark, using Planchette - a spiritual writing method that was all the rage among spiritualists in the 19th century. Mark must have given him good advice, because the Bradbury building is an architectural treasure.

It doesn't look like much from the street - a five-story building in tannish colored brick in the Romanesque styling that was the fashion of the day.

But it's the inside that's special.

From the street entrance, you pass into a five-story central court open to a skylight above, which floods the interior with natural light. Stairways rise at the north and south end, emphasized by their intricate wrought iron railings and landings. Cage elevators with exposed mechanism rise through the center of the atrium. Interior surfaces are terra cotta, tile, polished wood, and marble, each lending a rich texture and pattern.

Wyman was said to have been much inspired by a popular Utopian novel, "Looking Backward" by Edward Bellamy. The novel was set in the future, and described commercial buildings in the year 2000 as:

"a vast hall full of light, received not alone from the windows on all sides, but from the dome, the point of which was a hundred feet above ... The walls and ceiling were frescoed in mellow tints, calculated to soften without absorbing the light which flooded the interior."

In 1982 the Bradbury itself has had its own sci-fi moment, when it was used as a filming location for the futuristic movie "Blade Runner." The dark, moody look of the film, with its crowded and rainy nighttime view of Los Angeles, is sometimes described as "Future Noir."

The description is particularly apt, since the Bradbury has also served as a location for a true Film Noir - the 1951 remake of "M," where a climactic scene makes spectacular use of the atrium, the stairways and the rooftop in the dark tale of the pursuit of a child-killer in the slums of Los Angeles.

The Bradbury Building was designated National Historic Landmark in 1977. It was seismically refitted and restored in 1991. The public is allowed to enter the court and go up as far as the first landing - access to the rest of the building is for tenants only.


Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I love your interpretation of OPEN. How did I ever miss the Bradbury Building during all of my years in LA?

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

One of the benefits of blogging is getting to visit places you have never been. Thanks for showing me around.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I did not know this about Bladerunner. I loved that movie!

mo.stoneskin said...

Fantastic photo and the post was interesting. Love it. In fact I love bulding shots more than anything. Not sure why, think it is to do with the order and design!

Queenly Things said...

It takes my breath away. This place was one of the first places I went to see upon moving to L.A. oh, so long ago, specifically because of the Blade Runner connection.