December 7, 2012

lights go out, walls come tumbling down

boiler building

Davis, CA: Lately I have been spending my lunchtimes documenting the demise of an old historic (and largely ignored) UC Davis building, the old Boiler Building. It has been earmarked for demolition for quite some time now, to make way for a planned Music Recital Hall (see this Davis Enterprise article). I was contacted in the summer to come and sketch its final days, and set about drawing it from various angles until it became clear the bulldozers were not coming any time soon. That gave me a little more time to enjoy it in its final days.

boiler building (other side)

The building has not been used for a while, and is full of rusting old pipes and old mechanisms. I couldn't go in, but sketched what industrial gems I could from the outside.

boiler building againbehind the boiler buildingboilers


Finally in November the machines of deconstruction arrived, great hulking mechanical monsters, ready to put the old building out of its misery.

boiler building, under demolition

It looked rather like a T-Rex had escaped from captivity. I imagined massive dinosaurs drinking from the creek in the Arboretum, facebook pages being set up to guarantee their protection, soon they would be just another Davis quirk with their own tunnel and another thing to talk about at dinner parties, "well we have Tyrannosaurs in Davis you know, my husband says he saw one once on the greenbelt but I think it was just a turkey..."
boiler building (back)boiler building, under demolition

Bit by bit, the walls are tumbling down. As I sketched the scene below, yesterday lunchtime, a small group of parents and young children were there to watch the big metal machines in action. By now the Boiler Building is a haunted ruin.

boiler building, coming down

I'm going to continue to capture its downfall right up to the construction of the new Recital Hall. I'm sure the new building will be bright and shiny and full of wonder, but I'll miss sketching this old crumbling wreck.

13 comments :

jd said...

I really enjoy your deconstruction -- especially the last sketch through the half torn down wall and into a side room with the backhoe and trees beyond! And I like the way you "got" the broken window in the skylight. The boiler looks like a forerunner of R2D2; love the boiler! --full of character.

Don Low said...

These are really impressive.

RobCarey said...

Great series, Pete.

Marisa O. said...

I love the series and the detail of your drawings. Nice broken walls

petescully said...

Cheers, this has been a really interesting building to study in its twilight. Wish I'd been able to go inside and sketch the interior pipes and boilers; it was nearly arranged but then they started de-asbestosing it all. I'd have been scared of the spiders anyhow.

VHein said...

Beautifully detailed drawings, and great reportage!

Jim Scheel said...

Very nicely done! Love the sketches and the story. Thanks for sharing.

omar said...

Fantastic series of drawings! so many interesting details!

mikesch said...

Really nice sketches. I like them very much.

petescully said...

Cheers! Going back out there today. It's foggy so it'll be creepy.

Murray Dewhurst said...

Excellent series, it's interesting to see the sequence of decay and destruction.

Aloquin said...

Pete, your work is inspiring and the detail is amazing. I especially love the pipes you drew in black and white... you even added the details through the windows! Love it.

miked said...

Great documentation!
Really enjoyed the flow of images - almost like s story board.