Architecture’s Dance Partners

Architect Norman Foster ( left) dancing with Richard Rogers in London

Architect Norman Foster ( left) dancing with Richard Rogers in London

Often I stroll through a cityscape or a rural main street. My eyes espy the natural flow of a country’s aged life. For decades the moment is what compels me to realize that my purpose is to record life’s life. I have traveled half the world relocating my eyes to what matters. I stand on a street corner in cities among continents considering how history changes.

London’s Walkie Talkie  by Rafael Vinoly

London’s Walkie Talkie by Rafael Vinoly

 In life’s true spirit I capture the hands of an octogenarian couple who mirror the test of time. Their gait, dress, the doffed cap the curtesy address generations of a life lived. These youthful  ghosts of eras past, are architecture’s embodiment.

Frank Gehry designed the “Dancing House” (The Nationale Nederlanden building) in Prague. It appears that there Are two buildings on the dance floor. “Fred and Ginger” are a psychiatrist’s dream. If only they were on the couch. But here they are. A Gehry stands on the corner for all to witness the architecture dance. It is a tango.

I have photographed hundreds of architects and thousands of buildings.


What I have learned is that architecture is like a collection of musical notes. Sometimes the sounds are heralded as lifetime achievements. Sometimes one needs to realize that the greatest intentions fail miserably. Imagine a Paul McCartney, Jessye Norman duet. They  might sound like a begging Macaw. Yo-Yo Ma and Ginger Baker might sound like a fox wrestling in a chicken coop. The truth is that all architecture either sings melodious dreams or cacophonous nightmares.

Over the years I have been fond of watching the styles and the footprints of structures mingle together. We all know that the best dance partners are the ones whom are most comfortable together. Like dance, you  want your partner  to keep up with you, and sufficiently hold you up in the right light. It doesn’t always work out that way.

I regard a portrait of a building as I might a person. They both reveal similar characteristics when approached properly. As the light changes, so does the personality. I love marrying the light to the character. 

I  remind myself of the couple holding hands as they stroll along the streets. I reflect on their aged life as I would on a couple of buildings living intimately for so many years together. So much has changed in the time from when they first met. How have they aged together. Why have they stayed so long together? 


The history of architectural photography speaks to the growth of our planet, and the need to grow together. Just sometimes, we need to jettison the weight of our past to spring forward. But then it is possible that architecture’s promise for the moon is just that...

We must be careful how the city chooses its partners. It could be a heavenly choice for the gods or a nightmare for a lifetime.