Girls Scouts Building

This photographic project was shot for architect Thomas Sayler-Brown, founder of Tucson-based architectural firm SBBL Architecture + Planning.  It was a 3-part mission: (1) daylight shoot of empty building shell inside and outside; (2) dusk shots of building outside shell when owner had already moved in; (3) inauguration of the building with the Girl Scouts troop and Tucson’s mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

The purpose of the first part of the mission was to make a record of the structure of the building, its internal space distribution and its salient features such as the steel staircase, without the encumbrances of office furniture, interior decorations, Girl Scouts photos and merch, and other such items. I shot in color and in black & white. The color shots highlight the ‘whimsical’ aspect of the architectural work: ceiling plates and walls. These elements of interior design remind us that this building is used by girls. I also shot the outside shell in color as the visual aspect of the building is enhanced by the color scheme.

The black & white shots aimed at highlighting space, light, materials and angles. Clean concrete flooring is paired with the dominant white of the walls, the vast expanses of glass, and the hardness of steel fixtures. B&W renders proportions and light without distracting colors.

We needed dusk shots because the building celebrates light both inside and outside. The northern facade lets plenty of light in, and this lighting ‘a giorno‘ is complemented by the south window wall. At night, the building lits up Broadway in an area which, architecturally speaking, lacks in landmarks. One of the difficulties of this second slice of our photographic mission was to show the building without keystoning. A good friend of mine, Greg Nickens of Brighter Days Window Cleaning, brought in a 12 ft ladder and I shot the building from the central divider of Broadway Blvd, between spurts of traffic.

The last part of the mission was the inaugural event. The opening of the Girls Scouts’ new landmark above was a major event in Tucson where Girls Scouts are a time-honored institution supported by major women organizations and clubs, and by the City itself. The presence of the mayor at the event highlighted the participation of the city government in this key architectural project. The major difficulty of this slice of the photographic mission was to find the right balance of light and speed to illustrate an event that was taking place both indoor and outside: I was dealing with moving bodies, not just still fixtures, and the lighting inside the building is much less bright than the sun-drenched Tucson daylight.

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