Monday, May 9, 2016

There's modern architecture galore
on campus of North Carolina State

Photographing large university campuses isn't quite as "simple" -- and I use that term loosely and respectfully -- as I found photographing campuses of small colleges in Indiana. Most of the small school layouts are compact and reachable within an hour to an hour and a half's time (well, that's at least if I don't -- or can't -- access many of the building interiors, which has been the case at most of the small schools on weekends).

The larger schools are sprawled out, which I discovered two years ago when I tackled my first large school campus, Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, N.C. My visit to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill the following summer verified that.

Not surprisingly, North Carolina State University in Raleigh also is expansive ... and the architecture on its grounds is eclectic. Heck, much of it is very modern. Almost everywhere I landed during my trip there on Sunday, April 17, I came upon new buildings and modern architecture. And even though I spent a bit of time online researching the campus layout before I set out for my visit, I couldn't fully appreciate its size and magnitude until I got there.

I spent a good five and a half hours in Raleigh that afternoon, and I managed to make it to parts of four of the five designated campuses that constitute the main campus cluster -- South, Centennial, North and Central. I also made it to the JC Raulston Arboretum, a NCSU horticulture teaching laboratory, which is two miles or so west of the main cluster. The only area I didn't visit was the West campus, which houses PNC Arena and Carter-Finley Stadium, the Wolfpack's basketball and football facilities, and is even farther west from the main cluster than the arboretum.

I began my self-guided tour at the architecturally modern Joyner Visitors Center off Western Boulevard, which is at the northwest end of the South campus, and afterward swung by the McKimmon Center for continuing education.

From there I drove south to the Centennial campus, a growing, relatively new research park that houses 75 research institutes, centers and laboratories ... as well as a golf course and lake. The research in this park involves student and faculty partnerships with businesses and nonprofits in the technology, engineering and education fields. This is where I spent most of my time that day.

Spanning 1,333 acres, Centennial campus is big enough -- perhaps even more so -- to accommodate most small or even mid-sized institutions of higher education by itself. It features its own library, the James B. Hunt Jr. Centennial Library, a five-story bent-rectangle glass and aluminum creation that stands out among a stream of mostly new, red-brick structures around it. Anyone driving through this section of campus is drawn to the library immediately, and I spent considerable time assessing how to best capture and exploit it in pictures. My full perspective shot of the library that leads off the post shows the "bent" angle to the structure (one other, which is below, also depicts the bend), but I have other shots -- included below -- that might do better justice to the building's architectural and and op art merits. And oh, I never made it to the golf course or lake.

From Centennial, I drove to North campus, where I spent a short time walking in and around D.H. Hill Library, Patterson Hall, Gardner Arboretum (yes, there is a separate, modest arboretum actually on the campus) and University Plaza "The Brickyard." By this time, it was almost 3:30 p.m., and I decided to leave and make time for a side trip to the Raulston arboretum. After an hour and a half there, I drove back to the main campus via Hillsborough Street, turned onto Dan Allen Drive, and parked in the lot behind the Student Health Services Center.

From there, I made my final foray on foot, down Cates Avenue past Harris Field, the Witherspoon Student Center and several residence halls until I came to the second-most striking building I'd seen that day, the Talley Student Union. From there I walked past Dail Softball Stadium on Morrill Drive (and Derr Track and Soccer Field behind it), and took the pedestrian path separating Carmichael Gym and Miller Field to get back to my car near the health center.

I know I missed a lot, especially the major sports facilities and much of the original core campus. Perhaps another time ...

Click on any image in this post to view a larger and sharper version (which is particularly useful when accessing this post from a mobile device). For a full gallery of images from my shoot at NCSU, visit my galleries at

Photo geek stuff: I bracketed exposures for all of my photos at North Carolina State University so I could process them in Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software afterward, although there is at least one photo below that was processed from a single frame. I used a Canon 6D equipped with a Tamron 24-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens. Most of the three shots for each image were taken at ISO 160, boosting upward accordingly to adapt to darkening available light. I used an aperture of f/8 or f/9. The shutter became the variable camera setting to render my different exposures. 

Above and below: The Joyner Visitors Center on South campus.

Above and below: A relaxing area between the Joyner and McKimmon centers.

Above: The McKimmon Center.

Above and next six below: Various shots and perspectives, exterior and interior, of the James B. Hunt Jr. library on Centennial campus.

Above: Tower Hall on the Oval, a very short stroll from the Hunt library.

Above: A view from the top of the steps outside Hunt library, looking west toward the Monteith Research Center.

The College of Textiles (above) and two views of the Monteith Engineering Research Center and parking across from the Hunt library.  

Above and below: Different views of the Monteith Engineering Research Center and parking deck. Who knew parking garages could be designed so architecturally resplendent?

Arched walkways (above and next two below) behind the Monteith Center leading west to three more research buildings on Centennial campus.

Above and below: Looks from the covered walkways, including (below) the opposite side of the Monteith Center.

Above and below: Two of the research centers, including one with institutional art as a part of the landscaping. 

Above and below: Evidence of ongoing development at the Centennial campus, which isn't close to being fully developed yet. 

 Above: Venture I building.

 Above: Engineering Building I, across the Oval from Hunt library.

Above: There is more architecture to appreciate in yet another parking facility, this one on the Oval next to Engineering Building II.

Above: I believe this is one of the Venture buildings on Centennial campus, though I'm not positive which one.

Above and below: Views of the D.H. Hill library on North campus.

By the time I reached University Plaza (above), also known as "The Brickyard," and the adjacent Gardner Arboretum (below), it was getting late in the afternoon, and the descending sun was offering me a pretty neat shadow show.  

Above and below: Separate looks of the commercial district opposite North campus on Hillsborough Street.

Backside (above) and front (facing Dan Allen Drive) of the southeast wing of the X-shaped Bragaw Residence Hall on Center campus. 

Above: The glass-dominant Student Health Services Center on Cates Avenue.

Above: Across Cates Avenue from the health center is Harris Field; behind it is Witherspoon Student Center, which houses NCSU's African-American Cultural Center. 

Above, approaching the Talley Student Union; below, the plaza outside Carmichael Gymnasium.

Above and next two below: Different views of the Talley Student Union. My favorite of the three is the last one. 

Above: Inside Talley Student Union, visitors will find this enormous rendering of a howling wolf, a nod to the Wolfpack, nickname of NSCU's athletic teams. 

Above: Dail Softball Stadium in the foreground, Derr Track and Soccer Field behind it in the distance. 

Above: Ending this post with a frame of a jogger who ran past me as I neared my car in the lot behind the health center. 

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