February 19, 2018

North Carolina has one of the few state-owned art museums in the country. It’s a welcome expression of the state’s better nature, especially considering that the government lately has been better known for  the infamous

House Bill 2, systematic racial gerrymandering, and unlawful voter suppression.

The West Building, which houses the permanent collection, is an internationally significant work of architecture. Architect Thomas Phifer designed the building, which was completed in 2010. Phifer is based in New York but has roots in the Carolinas: He holds two degrees from Clemson, and early in his career he worked at firms in Charlotte and Greenville. Notably, the museum has its origins in a 1920’s bequest of artworks and funding from one Robert F. Phifer. I don’t know whether he and the architect are related.

The building sits calmly in the landscape, a strong yet low-key presence amid gravel paths...

September 26, 2017

In Lansing, Michigan, you can visit my in-laws, enjoy creative flavors of ice cream at the Michigan State Dairy, and puzzle over why the state capital isn’t in Detroit. You can also visit the Broad Art Museum on the MSU campus, designed by Zaha Hadid and completed in 2012.

I recently visited the Broad (rhymes with “road”). The exterior is distinctive, to say the least, with its sharp-finned, steel-clad envelope, and its evident hostility toward 90-degree angles. Inside are more jagged edges, a few vertical walls that concede to thenecessity of hanging things, and a conspicuous absence of curves.

Someone once wrote of an actor that “his suits wear him, not the other way around.” I felt much the same way about the Broad: The building visits you, instead of vice versa. The structure never lets you forget it’s there. It’s always redirecting your eye, or influencing your steps, or throwing up some jarri...

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Architectural Photographer

Charlotte, NC



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