It’s a good time of the year for sunrise photos. Daylight savings time just gave me an extra hour in the morning, the sun is almost rising due east, and the foliage hasn’t begun hiding objects. Especially architectural subjects. Here’s one I’ve been waiting to photograph for a few months.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s eastern home sits just at the top of a hill overlooking a valley full of farmland and streams. The home’s name, Taliesin, means “shining brow” in Middle Welsh, and seeing it illuminated by the rising sun confirms the appropriate choice for a name.
I’ve seen images of the house during spring and summer where the trees in the foreground block the viewer from getting a sense of the house’s size. This is the third structure Wright built here – the previous two burned – and contains around 12,000 square feet in a roughly L-shaped design. The part overlooking the valley is fully of glass and open space; the other size is a terraced courtyard with trees, flowers and fountains.
As you see, the exterior of the house is colored to resemble the land, stone and trees surrounding it, blending in as if it grew at this spot. A continual laboratory for Wright, Taliesin represents one version of his organic architecture.
Following more traditional design, and appropriate for a working farm, the Midway Barns would fit on just about any Wisconsin family’s spread.
The color is Cherokee red, Wright’s signature color that shows up in many of his designs. The barns are used by students in the Taliesin Fellowship who work around the farm while studying architecture.
A functional building of a very different sort can be found about 100 miles away from Taliesin. This structure was built, not to explore an organic nature close to the earth, but rather to look to the stars – literally.
This is the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory, home to the 40-inch refractor telescope, still the largest of its type in the world. Research on astrophysics has been performed here by such notables as Edwin Hubble and Carl Sagan. The building dates back to 1895, resulting from the efforts of George Hale and Charles Yerkes. Hale went on to build the 200-inch reflector telescope at Mt. Palomar in California, for years the largest of its type in the world.
So, as you see, no foliage means you can see the buildings and appreciate their design and setting. Sure the colors of spring and summer are great for landscapes, but sometimes you just need to see what’s behind them.