San Francisco Academy of Science, Renzo Piano Design

If you've already visited my "About" page, you know my dream job: assignment from Architectural Digest to photograph building designed by Renzo Piano. Well, Architectural Digest still not calling... (Ms. Mennillo, have you lost my number?) However, being lucky enough to live in Bay Area where we have magnificent Academy of Science design by the great architect Renzo Piano right here in San Francisco Golden Gate Park, I decided to go out and practice. Just in case: when AD calls I will be well prepared.

I planned the visit for early spring - before summer fog rolls in the city - and on Monday morning. After all de Young museum across is closed on Mondays, and any way, who goes to museums on Mondays, right? So I should have a beautiful morning side lighting and nearly empty building, all to my artistic delight.

Sure enough, I get to the city early morning and its raining. After a good long coffee break (lets look at the positive side) it finally cleared out and I happily walked towards the Academy only to find thick crowds right in front of the building. If you were wondering, who on Earth goes to see exhibitions on Mondays morning, I now know the answer: school children. Busloads and busloads of them!

Facing backlight front façade with gray skies behind it and swarms of first graders in front of it, I decided try my luck on the other side of the building: the East-facing side with the personnel entry has more industrial feel but is no less beautiful with the signature horizontal and perpendicular lines, airy glass structure and a graceful bridge leading to the entry door. That's where I finally found my winning shots: noon sun was casting hard shadows and shaped the features of the building and the less frequented side afforded me luxury of shooting without people in sight.

All in all I found it not to be an easy task. Mainly due to sheer size of the structure (the building is huge if you have never been there) and the fact that its being shielded with native California flora (Redwoods growing along the building). While very beautiful, it does not allow for unobstructed view of the entire edifice. I finally decided on an angle shots showing north and south wings of the building in a perspective and straight-on detail shot.

I think I successfully captured the grandiose of the building and, despite its size, its light feel. I am curious about your comments - especially: which perspective you like more: towards north wining or south wing?

And of course - do go visit the Academy of Science. It is an amazing design - both outside and inside, and you will be up for a treat. Oh, and do not forget to look at the exhibits as well :-)

Academy of Science, San Francisco: Eastern Facade, South Wing

Academy of Science, San Francisco: Eastern Facade, South Wing

Academy of Science, San Francisco: Eastern Façade, en Face

Academy of Science, San Francisco: Eastern Façade, en Face

Academy of Science, San Francisco: Eastern Facade, North Wing

Academy of Science, San Francisco: Eastern Facade, North Wing