I fell in love with the Flatiron building in 1981 when I visited New York as an architectural student. In 1902, the building was cutting edge and innovative. For more than 100 years it has stood the test of time as an enduring icon at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Several years ago I began to think about how I could capture a quintessential image of this great building. Considerable planning and research for the perfect composition coalesced perfectly with magical light to create.... the Keeper!
Designed by the noted Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and built in 1902, the Flatiron Building is an early example of what was then an entirely new form of architecture—the skyscraper. Dubbed initially by the public as Burnham's folly as it was believed that Daniel Burnham's triangular design combined with the building's exceptional height would not withstand strong winds.
The Flatiron Building was designed as a vertical Renaissance palazzo. Unlike New York's early skyscrapers, which took the form of towers arising from a lower, blockier mass, the Flatiron Building epitomizes the Chicago school conception: like a classical Greek column, its facade - limestone at the bottom changing to glazed terra-cotta - is divided into a base, shaft and capital.
In 1906, H.G. Wells wrote: "I found myself agape, admiring a skyscraper - the prow of the Flatiron Building, to be particular, ploughing up through the traffic of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in the late-afternoon light."
It is brilliant how Burnham neatly rounded off the acute angle of the triangular flat iron shape. Was this a whimsical attempt, as H.G. Wells mused, to visually transform the building into the prow of a mighty ship? Or was it a deliberate effort to soften its tremendous mass? The great vertical edge between its east and west sides serves as the narrow ridge between its sunlit and shadowy sides. At the same time, the substantial flanks of the triangle demonstrate the elements of both strength and elegance making the structure a true beauty. ~ Aubra Franklin