I love the difference between photos and reality when it comes to visiting a famous building. In my mind’s eye, the building has a clean, dramatic approach and an entry across an uncluttered courtyard. When I get inside, I can turn circles in the airy lobby for 360 views, and then I can explore corridors and cubbies at my leisure. I can, of course, take perfectly lit photos from access points that give me the same classic views I see in coffee table books.
In reality, we deal with public transit or parking lots, line-ups and ticket booths, mandatory coat checks, timed entries and guided tours, no-photo zones, limited vantage points, and ever-diminishing public access to sites that have been eaten away by centuries of visitors. I am always fascinated to see how beautiful classic buildings have dealt with us, the tourists – such as what they’ve done for gift shops, restaurants and public washrooms. I like watching the staff and seeing how bored they are, working for the CN Tower or the Tate Modern. I love observing the behind-the-scenes work needed to create the illusion we’ve come to see, and the everyday-ness that is so easily exposed.
Here are some iconic buildings I would love to see, but in many cases, don’t expect to see. So perhaps I will maintain my illusions about them!
I could have chosen only public libraries, or union stations, or concert halls, or sports stadiums, or towers, or castles, or ruins – each worthy of its own post, I’m sure.