My office is located near the heart of the University’s at Albany’s Uptown Campus, a formidable, formal architectural edifice designed by the great Edward Durell Stone. The Uptown Campus is an awesomely scaled, integrated, fully actualized feat of architectural vision, and as such, tends to inspire strong love or hate reactions from those who visit, live, teach, work or study in it.
From a professional standpoint, this campus is challenging to me and my staff, as it is often very difficult to create the sorts of soft, comfortable, community-oriented dining and shopping spaces that we might desire within the austere and regimented order of Stone’s concrete and glass vision. But on a personal basis, I’ve grown quite fond of the Uptown Campus over the years, and I explore it with the same sorts of curiosity that I bring to my suburban woods explorations, never letting a nagging “I wonder where that trail (or corridor) goes” question go unresolved for very long.
As my woods explorations have been largely curtailed of late by this year’s perpetual monsoon, I have spent more time than usual walking the decks of (and tunnels beneath) the Uptown Campus. During the summertime, when most of the faculty and students are not here, such ambles about become somewhat surreal, as the vastness of Stone’s vision, without other human beings to give it scale, evokes some great, fallen city-state of the future, rendered sterile by an apocalyptic agent, with me as the final observer of its slow and crumbling return to the rocks and soil from which it was cast.
I can’t always decide whether I’m a zombie vampire or a time traveler or a doomed astronaut in this scenario, but under the low gray skies of spring this year, that sense of weird isolation becomes ever more palpable to me when I’m out and about. For those who aren’t on campus now, or for those who have never seen the University at Albany, here are some representative shots from recent walkabouts . . .
To see similar “Hidden in Suburbia” photo essays, click here.