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A Big Book Project: Medium-Format Vertical Panoramas
Skyscraper book reaches new heights.
By Alysha Sideman

Columbia Center in Seattle Built: 1985 Height: 967 feet to spire/932 feet to roof/76 stories Location: 701 5th Avenue, Seattle, Washington Architect: Chester L. Lindsey As the tallest building in Washington State, Columbia Center dominates the Seattle Skyline. This building boasts the most amount of stories of any building west of the Mississippi. It has 76 stories of office space above ground and seven stories of various use below ground. The three geometric arches of the building give the optical illusion of three towers standing side by side. The elegant appearance of the building is completed by the Rosa Puring Carnelian granite exterior. The original design has the building at 1,005 feet but dangers posed by the nearby Sea-Tac Airport left the Columbia Center at 967 feet.
credit: Eric Mull

555 California Street in San Francisco Built: 1969 Height: 779 feet/52 stories Location: 555 California Street, San Francisco, California Architect: Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill The 555 California Street Building is the focal point of San Francisco’s financial district. This building is sometimes called Triple Five Cal or Triple Nickel because of its address. The building’s unique design incorporates thousands of bay windows and is clad in the very costly carnelian granite. The windows are used to improve the rental values. It was constructed to show off Bank of America’s wealth and power. Over the years, several motion pictures, including Dirty Harry and The Towering Inferno have prominently featured the skyscraper. In 2005, this building sold for a reported $1.05 billion.
credit: Eric Mull

One Atlantic Center in Atlanta. Built: 1987 Height: 820 feet/50 stories Location: 1201 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia Architect: Johnson & Burgee Architects and Heery International One Atlantic Center, also knows as IMB Tower, is located in Midtown Atlanta. This building introduced Atlanta to the post-modern architectural idiom for which the midtown commercial district is now known. Spanish pink granite with a copper pyramid-shaped top and gold peak add to the beauty of this building. Prentliss Properties commissioned One Atlantic Center for its IBM Southern headquarters.
credit: Eric Mull

Armed with his medium-format Fuji GX617 panoramic camera and film, Cleveland-based photographer Eric Mull traveled to 17 cities to capture the 51 tallest buildings in the U.S.; and to create black and white panoramic photography for his new book The American Skyscraper.

A purist by nature and a commercial shooter "by day," Mull had some unqiue technical challenges with shooting buildings as subjects as far as lighting and shooting angles was concerned, but enjoyed capturing subjects he did not have to pose, in natural elements he was not able to change.

Since discovering a passion for the craft at age 18, Mull has been seeing the world through panoramic vision. While other shooters were concentrating on horizontals, Mull turned his camera sideways focusing on the vertical panoramic photography of inanimate objects.

"Most people drive by our nation's skylines everyday without ever looking up," says Mull. "The strength and pride that exists within those structures have been instrumental in shaping America during the 1900s."

The year and a half-long project documented every era of American architecture, from the Woolworth Building in New York City and its 57 stories built in 1913, to the New York Times Building, completed in 2007, and stretching skyward for more than 1,000 feet. The book captures each city's tall buildings in a single day of shooting.

From iconic buildings like the Sears Tower in Chicago (108 stories tall) to the Empire State Building (102 stories tall) and the Chrysler Building (77 stories tall) in New York to buildings that define their city's skyline like the Bank of America Tower in San Francisco (52 stories tall) and Key Tower in Cleveland (57 stories tall), The American Skyscraper also illustrates the achievements of great architects like I.M. Pei, Cesar Pelli, and Philip Johnson.

According to those familiar with the project, the buildings posed a minefield of logistics to navigate in post 9-11 America. A photographic adventure not unlike Kerouac's On The Road, Mull had confrontations with many security guards when trying to find locations off-site to shoot. Still, the challenges were well worth it.

"The detail and vast differences from building to building in each American city are as defining as the people themselves," says Mull who is now working on another book of panoramas.

Cities covered include: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Boston, Houston, Seattle, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Jersey City, and Miami.

Mull has worked as a professional photographer for more than 20 years, beginning as a photojournalist. Now he shoots for magazines as well as corporate and commercial clients. For more information, visit