New Collection Portrays Houston’s Architectural Domain

[Tweet “Renowned architectural photog Joe Aker’s collection now at University of Houston.”] Architectural photographer Joe Aker has given a collection of images to the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.

The Aker Architectural Photographic Records Collection comprises roughly 50,000 distinct images depicting scenes of commercial architecture over the past three decades.

SOM 450 Lexington, New York City. Image courtesy of Joe Aker.

SOM 450 Lexington, New York City. Image courtesy of Joe Aker.

Aker, owner of Aker Imaging, has worked with leading architecture and real estate firms, such as Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Robert A.M. Stern, César Pelli, Pickard Chilton, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Philip Johnson, HOK, Kirksey and Ziegler Cooper; as well as Gerald D. Hines Interests and Trammell Crow.

Of particular interest are images of properties developed by Gerald D. Hines, for which the University of Houston College of Architecture is named. It is one of the largest collections of photographs of his buildings completed in the twentieth century.

In 2011, Aker began considering the future for his vast collection of photography. He contacted UH Special Collections, whose mission is to preserve, safeguard, organize, and describe primary sources in a number of collecting areas for teaching and research activities of students and scholars.

The Aker collection offers a rare view of the architectural landscape in Houston and other major cities, including a photographic record of original models of structures that were never built, as well as plans, renderings, models and final photography of the finished buildings. What makes this collection of images special are the many photographs showing the process of design from the first drawing of the first model to the final design model and the finished building.

Composite of Hines Del Bosque, Mexico City. Image courtesy of Joe Aker.

Composite of Hines Del Bosque, Mexico City. Image courtesy of Joe Aker.

Aker was one of the first to digitally produce structural model composites before the advent of computer-generated graphics. Working with Houston digital artist Raphaele Malandain, he would photograph a site where a building was set to be constructed, photograph the building model, and drop the model image onto the site image using analog film composition, resulting in a close representation of the future finished building.

As a whole, Aker says, the collection tells a fascinating story of Houston’s economic booms and busts. For more information on this new and growing collection, contact Vince Lee.

One response to “New Collection Portrays Houston’s Architectural Domain”

  1. Sandy Lessig says:

    Joe Aker’s images are priceless!

Posted on November 21st, 2014 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements | 1 Comment »