“A Living Sculpture That Changes From Day to Night” -Jason Keen Photographs a Well-Loved Park Pavilion in Detroit

“A Living Sculpture That Changes From Day to Night” -Jason Keen Photographs a Well-Loved Park Pavilion in Detroit

The theme of today is play! Our featured project on this run of Project of the Week is by Detroit area architectural photographer Jason Keen. Jason has masterfully photographed the Detroit Riverside Pavillion over the course of seasons and time, creating a lovely set of photographs that showcase this well-loved, playful, and meaningful structure created by the architects at INTOTO Studio and lighting designers Smithgroup.

Jason speaks on what makes the pavilion special in his eyes. He shares, “This project perfectly represents the contributions architecture can make to society. It is public art, accessible to all and funded by public resources, belonging to the entire community.

At its core, it is a simple, utilitarian structure in a Detroit public park, containing restrooms and a concession area. However, through thoughtful design and architectural intervention, it has been transformed into a novel and transcendent experience.

It acts as a living sculpture that changes from day to night using simple methods: holes strategically drilled in cor-ten steel to create an interesting pattern. During the day, sunlight filters through these holes, casting shadows and patterns. At night, the designed lighting from inside projects outward, creating a reverse effect. People often interact with this structure out of necessity, but they become witness to a unique experience crafted with intention and a deep respect for them.”

I appreciate how fleshed out Jason’s photographs of the pavilion and park are. He gives us the perfect combination of wide, encompassing views that set the stage and showcase the functionality of the structure. He also created tighter, more intimate views which translate the materiality, color palate, and add in heaps of mood.

He speaks on his favorite image saying, “I love all the different ways we’ve captured the project: with and without people, in different seasons, night and day. However, there is one image in particular where the camera is nestled between some trees, capturing the building in context with the Detroit Riverfront and the Ambassador Bridge. Kids are running around in the foreground, playing in the splash pad. The image feels so effortless, almost as if the camera wasn’t there. Those are my favorite images, where you aren’t forcing anything and just responding to the moment and light. There is an honesty to those images.”

“Weather is always the perpetual challenge in what we do, but we were lucky there. What excited me most about the project was capturing the enthusiasm that people had for the new park. After many years of disinvestment, all of these new and incredible parks and amenities in the city are deeply appreciated and loved.

Consequently, the park was incredibly crowded whenever we were photographing, so we needed to figure out times of day to photograph when there was a nice volume of people. It was so busy at certain times that you could barely see the building through all the folks enjoying the park, kids running around the playground, and playing in the splash pad. It was a joy to see, but certainly a challenge,” Jason tells.

I love this next scene. The contrast through color, the vibrancy, the shadows – it’s all great. We can feel that late afternoon light on our skin, and smell the crisp air. What a tremendous sense of place.

Long shadows and warm highlights make the pavilion’s facade stand out against this gorgeous sunset. Again, what a great sense of time and place.

As evening falls, Jason shows us that magic trick in the lighting design, where now the interior appears through the holes in the cor-ten steel. The two figures are perfectly placed, and our eye moves through the scene with a nice rhythm.

A gigantic thanks to Jason for sharing this project with us! What a beaut!

Pop over to jasonkeen.com to see more of Jason’s lovely work. If Instagram is your thing, you can find Jason @jasonkeenco.

If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.

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