Stata Center

Stata Center

The Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT was Pritzker Prize–winning architect Frank Gehry and opened in 2004. Robert Campbell, architecture columnist for the Boston Globe, gave a positive review and wrote that

People look at its amazing curves and angles and wonder what Martian colony has landed here…The Stata’s appearance is a metaphor for the freedom, daring, and creativity of the research that’s supposed to occur inside it.

Mathematician and architectural theorist Nikos Salingaros harshly criticized the Stata Center and other buildings by Gehry in his 2007 book Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction, writing

An architecture that reverses structural algorithms so as to create disorder—the same algorithms that in an infinitely more detailed application generate living form—ceases to be architecture. Deconstructivist buildings are the most visible symbols of actual deconstruction. The randomness they embody is the antithesis of nature’s organized complexity…Housing a scientific department at a university inside the symbol of its nemesis must be the ultimate irony.

I don’t have critical opinions, I just think it’s fun to look at and don’t know why it took me ten years to get around to taking a few photographs.

Ray and Maria Stata Center
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

North Court

Swampscott Railroad Depot

Swampscott Railroad Depot

I’ve admired this building for years, but this is the first time I have photographed it. I decided to be a little more intentional about my photography, and started making a list of places I want to capture, and this was the top of the list for nearby places.

This beautiful 19th century railroad station always looks to me like it belongs on the Island of Sodor with Thomas the Tank Engine — it’s almost too cute to be real! It’s all closed up and no longer in use, but the train still stops here. The train I take to and from Boston stops at this station, and I always find it a thrill to see the old Swampscott sign and all that great gingerbread wood trim out the train window.

Swampscott Railroad Depot
10 Railroad Avenue
Swampscott, Massachusetts

Built in the 1860s in the Stick Style by Boston Housewright George W. Cram
National Register of Historic Places #98001106

Nothing New Here

It’s a rainy Sunday. This morning I went out for breakfast and parked in front of the Beverly Public Library. I took a picture of the roses there, wet with rain. On my way home, I stopped at the Wenham Cemetery for a few minutes and took a picture of the autumn leaves on the trees and on the ground. Then I stopped for a few minutes at Hamilton-Wenham Public Library to take a picture of the library and another looking down Union Street — more autumn leaves on trees and on the ground.

If I look through my 8,000+ photographs on Flickr, I can find near duplicates for each of these pictures. I like the rain. I like roses. I like autumn leaves. I drive past this library and this cemetery nearly every day, sometimes five or more times a day. I like stopping to take pictures, and often find myself standing in pretty much the exact same spot, taking nearly identical pictures.

I like to think of myself as an adventurous person. I love to travel and photograph new places, and I like to take that traveler’s mindset at home, and explore the area where I live, finding and photographing places with historical significance, or just things I find visually interesting.

But I also love my daily routine, and don’t mind taking nearly identical photographs of familiar places. For me, photography is not primarily about creativity, it’s about appreciating and capturing whatever catches my eye on any given day, even if that means I end up with lots of nearly identical pictures.

Ice Cream Memories

When my daughters were young, White Farms in Ipswich was one of our favorite ice cream places. We used to stop here sometimes on our way home from sister’s house, or after Sunday visits to the flea market, or sometimes when we just felt like a little outing. We never called it White Farms, though — it was always just the Place with the Cow on the Roof.

Bubbling Brook I wish I had a picture of this place taken back then. I wish I had a picture of my little girls standing there holding ice cream cones, many pictures taken over those years, all ages and many flavors.

And I wish I had pictures of myself and my sister at our family’s favorite ice cream stand, the Bubbling Brook in Westwood. I still drive miles out of my way to go back there once in a while, just to remember the happy days, take a few photographs (and also enjoy maple walnut in a sugar cone.)

I wish I had pictures of all the ordinary places in my life — not just the ice cream stands but the coffee shops, sandwich places, restaurants, bookstores, libraries and all the other places that were once part of our family’s lives, places where we once were regulars. I sometimes wish that I had spent my whole life taking as pictures as casually and prolifically as I do now, so I would have pictures of every place and person and thing in my life. But then I remind myself that I do have all of those pictures, as memories if not as photographs.