The Empire State Building in New York City as seen at twilight on a recent evening from the rooftop of an artists’ studio in Chelsea. We love that moment when the lights first come on atop this most iconic of New York skyscrapers, especially when the lights are just plain white and it’s still kind of bright outside. (We could live without the building’s other array of garish symbolic and seasonal colors.)
Pictured below is the entrance to the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin building, or Berlin State Library, in the German capital. The building is a sprawling piece of post-war architectural modernism by architects Hans Scharoun and Edgar Wisniewski. It’s an architectural landmark that’s a bit under-appreciated compared to Berlin’s other, more famous and iconic structures. The library is aging — some parts not as handsomely as others — and thus undergoing some renovation, as the photos attest. The massive library is captured beautifully on film as one of the principal settings of German director Wim Wenders’ classic 1980s movie “Wings of Desire.” See film clip below.
The capital city of Costa Rica doesn’t have much of a high-rise skyline to speak of. But one unmissable architectural landmark on San Jose’s urban landscape is a massive brutalist skyscraper that’s home to the Instituto Nacional de Seguros.
Depending on your point of view, the building is either an ugly eyesore, an oddly ambitious and out of place gesture of modernist architecture, or it’s an architectural gem, a shining, living example of brutalism.
In any case, the structure is one of the largest in San Jose and it’s architecturally significant. The brutalist style was an influential architectural movement that came of age in the 1950s and was in vogue for a time in the ’60s and ’70s, a time when many large cities in Latin America were experiencing a building boom. (See more examples of San Jose architecture here and here.)