Night Shots: Chicago’s Burnham Pavilions

Posted by CWade in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

On October 3oth, I went down to Millennium Park to shoot the Burnham Pavilions at night, something I’d really wanted to do for awhile. I waited until the last minute to do so, as I believe the city started to disassemble them November 1st.

Even during daylight hours, the structures were absolutely amazing, and really impressed me. I can’t speak for other low-light photographers, but the pavilions were an irresistible subject at night, due to the ever-changing lighting (and video) that’s incorporated into the designs.

I was very lucky weather-wise too: the moon was almost full, it had stopped raining, and there was great cloud cover- an excellent element for long-exposure photography.

The first pavilion, by Zaha Hadid – who is, by the way, the first female architect to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize – is my favorite and the one in which video is projected:

The structure is so complex, that its completion was delayed two months because the design companies involved struggled to actually assemble it.

Wikipedia says, “The pavilion by Hadid…is a tensioned fabric shell fitted over a curving aluminum framework exceeding 7,000 pieces.[8][5][6] As expected it accommodates a centennial-themed, audio and video presentation on its interior fabric walls. Although the frame is composed of 7,000 individually bent pieces, no two of which are alike, the shell is made up of a mere 24 custom-made panels of fabric.

New Watermark! (yea or nay?)

As you can see in the next few photos, the lighting was constantly changing, which made it really hard to stop photographing and walk away:

Also, this little photo assignment really made me pine for an 18 or 20mm wide lens. I just could not get back far enough, and I’m convinced my photos would have been better for it.

Here’s the inside of Hadid’s pavilion; there was a seven-minute video projection (with sound) that was looping:

I hate this photo a little bit for the clipped green light, but it shows you the ceiling construction of the interior:

A daytime shot can be viewed on my Flickr.

The second pavilion was designed by Ben van Berkel , a Dutch architect also responsible for this awesome bridge:

I was disappointed at first because the structure was not lit at all when we first arrived at the park. I wandered around to shoot other things until noticing that the lights were finally on. I think the materials were really waterlogged from the constant rain and foot-traffic abuse, and it affected the lights somehow.

In fact, the pavilion was apparently closed briefly due to wear and tear:

The pavilion did not prove to be durable enough for the interactive environment of Millennium Park…skateboarders, avid fireworks spectators and youthful climbers have been part of the multiple causation of the decline of the pavilion that led to its closure during the week of August 10–14.(Wikipedia)

You can see water damage in the right corner of the top plane.

This thing stayed pink and purple most of the time…

It’s uncertain what will happen to these structures after they’re taken apart. The website explains that Hadid’s is designed to be “dismantled and reinstalled in its entirety elsewhere,” so that could be interesting.

I suspect van Berkel’s will just be recycled due to the damage.

Here’s an interesting time-lapse video of the Hadid pavilion being constructed. (Warning: there is music and it is cheesy.) Enjoy:

2 Responses to Night Shots: Chicago’s Burnham Pavilions

  1. CIOPhoto says:

    Girl, you are a master night photographer. These images are amazing!

  2. Kaleidoscope Alchemist says:

    The colours are amazing and the sweeping shapes, especially of the first structure are lovely. They contrast beautifully with the harsh jagged cityscape behind them.

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