Penn State University Beaver Wellness Center | Pittsburgh Architectural Photography

Being a Registered Architect as well as a photographer, I am of course drawn to architectural photography. An Architect is all I can remember wanting to be, since I was a little kid drawing the floor plans of my dream house in my notebook. In April of 2011, after years of school, interning and seven intense 5+ hour exams, I achieved this goal. Three months later, I had my second child and found my job no longer available. I had thought about working part time, but anyone in the design community knows there is no such thing as a part time Architect!

Enter photography, which has always been a part of my creative outlet. In the back of my mind I had recently thought about how great it would be to combine architecture and photography. So I took advantage of my new situation and started my own business (although I’m currently focusing on portraits I am also trying to build up my architectural portfolio). It’s been the perfect balance of doing what I love and spending time with the people I love.

 

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About three years ago, my firm was hired to renovate and design an addition to Penn State Beaver’s existing gym. I was assigned to this project and we started working on a design. This included a few design charities with select staff from PSU Beaver, which was a great experience. We met with the client every couple weeks as the design moved forward and developed. I worked on the 3D model, generating walkthroughs, lighting studies, renderings and of course the construction drawings. I was involved in just about every aspect of it, and I loved it. I worked to coordinate with consultants, clients, my own coworkers and eventually the selected contractors. I sat through pre-bid meetings and handled questions from potential contractors (quite the experience!). Construction started in the spring of 2011 and I attended site meetings right up until a couple weeks before having my daughter (and everyone joked about how I should put a hard hat and ear protection on my belly). I attended a few more meetings while on maternity leave just to try and learn how everything actually went together. The construction phase, though often frustrating, is my favorite part because I not only get to see all of the things I spent so many hours drawing and redrawing come to life, but I get to see how it is put together.

Just before the new Wellness Center opened up, the owner graciously gave me a tour of the addition and renovations. It was such a great feeling to walk through it all. My first project start to finish. I looked up at the 2-story glass divisions between the main lobby and fitness areas and thought about how many headaches those mullions gave me throughout the design phase, but they looked great now. I looked up at the “floating” ceilings, where I spent a bunch of time trying to make tiles line up and space out the lighting evenly while not interfering with the maze of ductwork navigating above it. The sun shades looked great and, I was told, do just what they are supposed to, thanks to our light study. The majority of the addition, except the main lobby, was shifted 15 degrees away from facing due East (which the existing building does) so as not to blind the people working out in the mornings.

 

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I made sure to get there for this photo session before the sun came up to do my best to capture both the building lit up “like a jewel” in the darkness and also how the building works with the light in those early hours. I was not at all disappointed in any of it.

 

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I am very excited to share with you this project. I feel so lucky to have been involved with every part or it, from design to bidding to construction and now showcasing. I  hope you enjoy it!

 

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