During my first year of university, one of my professors said that you can easily recognize an architect on the street because he is the one who always looks up to see how the building ends. I recognized myself in this behavior, beyond the compulsion to knock walls and brush surfaces everywhere I am.
But as show the recent video released for the #Lookup campaign launched by AIA, this is just one perspective for an architect. The #Lookup webpage features an interesting collection of videos and images (hint: scroll up) that offer different points of view to appreciate architecture through the lens of different American architects and iconic projects.
One eye that has greatly influenced the way the world sees architecture is that of Iwan Baan, the Dutch photographer who started his architecture photography career in 2005 shooting the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing for Rem Koolhaas. His unforgettable photos of New York City after Hurricane Sandy were immortalized on the cover of New York magazine.
“Taking [in a city from great] distances brings you closer to understanding a place,” explained the photographer in a recent video on NOWNESS. In Going Up, the photographer describes his approach to looking at the city and its architecture.
It should come as no surprise, then, that curators Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda called on Baan for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. His photo essay is the first piece they’ve commissioned for the 2015 exhibition, The State Of The Art of Architecture. “He has worked with today’s leading architects across all five continents, and perhaps better than anyone else he embodies the globalized nature of architecture in the 21st century,” say the curators, summarizing his life: “He travels incessantly, rarely spending more than a few days in any country and a fortnight on any continent.”
Beyond looking up or down from above (as in Going Up), Baan offers myriad perspectives of the built environment via his Instagram account, which he updates with enviable glimpses of his travels. From the colorful, stacked houses in Port-au-Prince in Haiti to the surreal and polluted bird eyes view of Chongqing in China, he captures faces, people, traffic — in other words, the living, breathing part of architecture that sometimes is all-too-often overlooked in clean and glossy shoots of buildings out of space and time.
Among Baan's achievements, he was honored with the Architizer A+Relevance Award in 2014; this year, Baan is a juror for the A+Awards.