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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fair-Weather Buildings

I went to bed last night thinking today would be dismal. A cold front was approaching Atlanta, and rain was forecast to start just after midnight and continue into the afternoon. I imagined a heavy, dark sky and a dispiriting slog through puddles to get to the train.

What I failed to take into account is that it isn't winter any more. I stepped outside this morning into a light rain shower. Birds were singing, and the sky was just that kind of gray that makes colors more vivid.

That was in my own neighborhood in Decatur, though. As I rode the train, it occurred to me that Midtown Atlanta would not fare quite so well.

The problem is one I noticed long ago, as a graduate student at Stony Brook: some buildings are clearly designed to look their best only in bright sunlight.

One building in particular on the Stony Brook campus - the Earth and Space Sciences building - was a clean, spare, modernist structure that almost glowed in the sunlight. Let a little rain fall, however, and it seemed to develop a terrible, seeping ailment, breaking out in dark streaks and blotches.

It was almost repulsive.

Much the same seems to apply to a number of buildings in Midtown Atlanta. Here are a few I passed on the walk from the train to my office this morning.