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Looking at Architecture in a New Light (or Dark)

Never did the promise of modernism seem so shiny and new as when it was just that (before the roofs leaked and heating those glass boxes got so darn expensive). But before the fall, in 1929, two partners set out to photograph the new modern world like it had never been captured before. Art Deco, the World’s Fair of 1933, Frank Lloyd Wright — they were there for it all. Their shot of Wright’s “Falling Water” is said to have given it that name, see for yourself below. The firm of Hedrich Blessing documented the modernist movement and have one of the largest catalogues of Mies van der Rohe’s work. Although their dramatic angles and lighting did more than document. They brought the buildings to life. Ken Hedrich’s mantra was, “Don’t make photographs, think them.” I’d say he felt them, too. Here’s some of the firm’s legendary work:

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water photographed by Bill Hedrich, 1937


The art deco Field Building with it’s dramatic two-story lobby were designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, photographed by Ken Hedrich, 1932

Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, designed by Eliel Saarinen and photographed by Ken Hedrich, 1943

Crown Hall is home to the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, it’s one-time director. Photographed by  Bill Engdahl, 1956


I love the illusion created by the reflection in this photo of St. Paul County Courthouse photographed by Ken Hedrich, 1933


Chicago’s art deco Palmolive Building designed by  Holabird & Root, photographed by Bill Hedrich, 1939


Chrysler Pavilion at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair photographed by Ken Hedrich, 1933

To see more, visit “Building Images: Seventy Years of Photography at Hedrich Blessing” at the Virginia Center for Architecture through April 12, 2009.



  1. I had the distinct pleasure of working for HB as a lab tech for nearly 22 years. Everyone of those images you posted are like my children because I printed each and every one of them as a labor of love. All of the black & white images and some color that are presented at the Virginia Center were handcrafted by me. I worked personally with Bill and Ken’s son, Jim, and past-president Jack Hedrich. I’ll always look fondly back at the years I spent with the firm as well as knowing the Hedrich’s.

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