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Utah Style and Design
photo friday glass house slc

Photo Friday: Glass House

June 15, 2018

This sounds like a line for a comedian:

Question: How do you photograph a glass house?

Response: Very carefully.

light fixture photo glass house slc

 

However silly the joke, this is the case. The photographs must be composed and made carefully with full consideration of the glass, concrete, steel, and their connections. A good inspiration for making the photographs is to honor the care and genius the architect summoned for the design. Also, with modernism, a photographer must pay attention to light, shadows, and their movement, as they are design elements used with intention by the architect. And then there’s the glass: reflections of the photographer and his gear, glare, flash, and of course you don’t want to shatter it with your tripod.

This home is located among thick vegetation in lower Emigration Canyon, and although built in 1965, it is in pristine condition because of the care from its current owner, a well-known Salt Lake architect recognized for her own modernist touch.

glass house slc

Architect Chris Nelson, an instructor with the University of Utah School of Architecture, worked with the home’s architect, John Sugden, as a student and as an architect early in his career. With this first-hand knowledge, he briefed me on the design of the home and on Sugden’s interesting career and modernist credentials.

glass house slc photo friday

 

Sugden designed the 1,800-square-foot home to suit two purposes. The top 900-square-foot level was home for his architectural partner, Charlie Griffin and his wife. The lower level served as the architectural office for Sugden and Griffin, and the two levels were not connected internally. Only later did the second and current owner add a spiral staircase.

 

glass house slc photo friday

John Sugden haled from Salt Lake City, and he moved to Chicago to study with Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology, an architectural school created by and for Mies. Sugden made this move after serving in the storied Tenth Mountain Division during World War II. As a student, Sugden assisted with the design of the campus and worked directly under Mies on the design and detailing for Crown Hall before joining Meis’s practice. This association lasted until Sugden’s return to Salt Lake in 1952, where he worked as a professor of Architecture at the U and maintained an architectural practice.

As Chris Nelson explains, the home designed by Sugden is a direct (second generation) expression of both the Modern Movement and the Bauhaus School that is historically intact.

In post-production, I converted the images to black-and-white, which is how most magazines in 1965 would have presented it when it was new. I also converted it to black-and-white with selective coloration, a rather new post-production style mostly in use by wedding photographers. I find that I observe different things in the same image depending upon whether it is in color or black-and-white. I would be interested in your reaction to the different presentations of the same image.

black glass house slc photo friday

photo friday glass house slc

I have heard rumors that a third owner may be adopting this glass home (it may be coming on the market). What an interesting place to call home.

Scot Zimmerman
Architectural photographer Scot Zimmerman has been photographing exteriors and interiors of homes, and commercial and public buildings across the United States for over 37 years. He is the principal photographer of eight books; over 40 periodicals have featured his work; and 11 museums have exhibited his photos. He’s fond of adventuring in the Southern Utah desert.

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