What Remains (from the publication John Andrews: Architect of Uncommon Sense)

It is a common practice to document a building upon its completion to create formal records of that work by the architect.  Carefully composed photographs are selected to promote the new structure.  In that instance, the camera captures the building in what will likely be the most pristine state of its existence. Weathering and stains that inevitably arrive over time are not present on the surfaces.  The structure has yet to encounter circumstances beyond the anticipation or control of the architect.  These photographs that depict a building at the start of its life and before it begins to accumulate history can even become its definitive representation in the media for decades. 

What is not as established is documenting what becomes of a building after the years have passed. Yet, how a building ultimately performs as a work of architecture can only be determined after it exists in the world and is used by people over a length of time.  This photographic project is based on revisiting John Andrews’ works that remain to this day.  The camera explores the current conditions of buildings that were primarily completed during the most prolific period of his career.

The various states his works have come to be after standing for a half-century or less reflect the precarious outlook on his legacy as an architect today despite his importance to late Modernism.  Cases like Scarborough College and the Callam Offices largely maintain their original forms and continue to be used by the tenants for their intended purposes. There are also examples like South Residences at Guelph and the former Intelsat Headquarters, where extensive alterations to introduce current architectural sensibilities have made Andrews’ distinct design features unrecognizable.  Only after this photographic project began did it become clear that it was no longer possible to photograph the Miami Seaport Terminal and the School of Art at Kent State, as these sites were recently demolished without fanfare. 

This erratic treatment of Andrew’s architecture in recent years is most strongly represented in the Cameron Offices, a structure that was simultaneously destroyed and preserved. Despite being a landmark work that signaled the architect’s return to Australia, the majority of the massive concrete complex was demolished after only three decades of operation.  The office structures, courtyards, and pedestrian bridges that intricately formed the north and south ends of this structure were cleared to make way for conventional apartment buildings and parking spaces.  Three of the seven office wings that initially comprised the Cameron Offices were preserved as a gesture of historical preservation.  However, this complex exists today in a significantly compromised state as Andrews’ design was contingent on the numerous components that stretched across the landscape to form the megastructure.  What remains of the Cameron Offices today show subtle but visible signs of sections that used to be there but were severed off through the demolition.

The photographs in this project capture how Andrews’ unique approach to design reflects the social and architectural values considered viable during the era these buildings were conceived.  With many of his buildings demolished in recent years or facing uncertain futures, there is an added sense of urgency in reexamining the relevance of his career in retrospect.  Moreover, one must consider the implications behind the gradual disappearance of Andrews’ works to understand the directions society and architecture have taken since his most prolific period as an architect.  These photographs are documents of the current state of Andrews’ buildings and the values that brought them into existence.

Using Format