From the perspective of emerging out of the glass elevator that connects the fifteenth floor of the Lamar Building with the penthouse that rests three storeys above it.
The structure, made of marble and glass, was designed by architect I.M. Pei in 1975—a commission from Senator R. Eugene Holley. Until the Senator’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment on charges of bank fraud, the penthouse served as his office in the sky.
The space is currently a studio for the painter Randy Lambeth, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for permission to invade and shoot.
The above photograph is dedicated to the late Senator R. Eugene Holley, who died ten years ago this month. In the 1960s and 70s, Holley “was a man who put the gold in Golden Boy,” according to Chronicle columnist Bill Kirby. Yet the senator had quixotic dreams and was punished severely for reaching—literally—too high.
Holley commissioned the glass penthouse seen here, designed by architect I.M. Pei in 1974. Completed the following year, this modernist structure of Italian marble and pale blue plate glass was without peer in the skyline of Augusta, Georgia—and so it remains. Initially derided as a slap in the face to Southern traditionalism, the penthouse has, over the decades, become an emblem of the ongoing struggle to revitalize the urban neighborhood it adorns. It’s the facade one sees in nearly every advertisement to entice suburbanites to wander downtown.
In heightening the contrast of the image, I vanquished the sky and clouds; I thought of bringing them back, and yet it seemed somehow right that the top of the Lamar Building should be literally in space—as out there on its own as it is in the human geography it occupies. – NPT (All rights reserved.)