Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

The Northeast Corner of
UC Berkeley's Doe Library

John Galen Howard's original drawing for Doe Library, c. 1910.

go to location mapIn the early 1900s the University of California, Berkeley experienced a remarkable expansion of the campus with a series of buildings in the classical style. As a history of the university recounts: At Oxford University, which at the time was strapped for funds, a Latin orator said, "There is brought a report that in California there is already established a university furnished with so great resources that even to the architects (a lavish kind of men) full permission has been given to spare no expense. Amidst the most pleasant hills on an elevated site, commanding a wide sea view, is to be placed a home of Universal Science and a seat of the muses."

John Galen Howard, the supervising architect charged with implementing the Benard plan for the campus, took advantage of his "permission to spare no expense" and developed a style of architecture that reinterpreted the grace, dignity, and austerity of classical lines to suit the California environment. Some of the campus's most elegant and stately structures were built during Howard's tenure, among them the Hearst Memorial Mining Building (1902-7), the Hearst Greek Theatre (1903), California Hall (1905), Doe Library (1911-17), the Campanile (1914), Wheeler Hall (1917), Gilman Hall (1917), and Hilgard Hall (1918).

A contemporary KAP view of Doe Library from the north. Visible are the original John Galen Howard structure and a recent plaza covering the largely underground expansion by Esherick, Homsey, Dodge & Davis.(May 1996, 52K jpg)

My kite aerial photography project for the last couple of months has been photographing the UC Berkeley campus and Doe Library has been a prime subject. The recent underground expansion has exposed the fine north facade of the building. Each afternoon the summer sun bathes the library's rhythmic engaged columns in a warm, low light. The vaulted reading room behind this facade is one of the most impressive spaces on campus. I walk by Doe Library on the way home and have taken to carrying my KAP essentials with me - ever prepared to spend an evening hour shooting the library. On several occasions during May I was able to fly kites but never with enough wind to loft the camera rig. My moment finally came at the end of the month when I tried the Sutton 30 in a breeze from the south. The resulting lift was just sufficient to fly the rig and fly I did.

On this afternoon I was accompanied by longtime associate Robert Marcial, now a graduate student at CAL. Since the winds were light, and thus challenging, I concentrated on the kite flying while Robert operated the transmitter. Our first target was the northeast corner of the library.

On to the northeast corner of Doe Library

Bird's eye view of the northeast corner. The original library is apparent to the left while the new plaza and skylights of the addition appear on the right, May 1996 (43 K jpg)

Doe Library has an elaborately detailed facade and I'd been curious about how the entablature would photograph at close range. So I flew the kite to place the camera rig first above the corner and later immediately opposite the entablature. It turned out to be a set of interesting shots.

A view along the east facade from the northeast corner. You can just discern the large arched window of the reading room, May 1996 (32K jpg)

(left) View of the corner entablature from slightly above and (right) view of the architrave, frieze, capitals, and engaged columns, May 1996 (31K each jpg)

Close views of the cornice at the corner showing handsome craft in granite and copper, May 1996 (35K and 36K jpg)

Robert Marcial atop the engaged pedestal, May 1996 (34K jpg)

At one point Robert somehow found himself standing on a ledge below the northeast corner. An altogether appropriate self-portrait for an architecture student.


[ Home Page | Background | Equipment | Gallery | Maps | Discussion | Others | Search | What's New ]

Comments to author: . All content, graphics and
images contained throughout are Copyright (C) 1995 - 2005 by Charles C. Benton
and are protected by United States and International copyright laws.
No text, graphic or image may be used whole or in part, individually,
or as part of a derivative work without express written permission.

All rights reserved. Revised: Thursday, July 18, 1996