All posts by Julian White

Junior music education major. Saxophone player.

Sheikh Zayed Bridge — Zaha Hadid

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stringioThis bridge was built in Abu Dhabi in 2010. A bridge was vital to the growing highway system, and Hadid provided, stylishly. She turned the journey into the destination!


The curves of the bridge, resembling scribbles, depict desert sand dunes. They are a sandy color in the daytime, but they are decorated with colorful lights at night. The bridge rises to 40 meters above water level.

The functionality and aesthetic appeal encourage the continuing growth of Abu Dhabi.

Guangzhou Opera House — Zaha Hadid

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stringio.jpgHadid described this building as smooth stream pebbles. It certainly shines like them! When I think of an opera house, I always think of the Sydney, Australia opera house. Now I like this one better!
Hadid-jumboIt was designed to fit in perfectly with the riverside. The area it is located in is urban China, and it is a very drab urbanized part. There was an ugly, bare riverfront before this building. Perhaps the beauty about it is that it somehow manages to bring city-dwellers in touch with nature again.  As a musician, I believe that music and nature are a great pair!stringio.jpg-2It was built fairly recently in 2010. One of the reasons it might not be so famous is because there is not a resident company that performs there frequently. It is still an excellent architectural work, and Hadid was a genius for seeing the potential in a bare area. The windows bring in so much natural light(or put out light at night), and everything is so intricate.

Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion — Zaha Hadid

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Zaragoza-Bridge-Pavilion-Zaha-Hadid_466x310This is a magnificent way to walk across a river! It is not like any normal bridge in Spain!

Hadid designed this bridge to connect La Almozara neighborhood to the site of the 2008 Zaragoza expo over the river Ebro. It is arranged in four main enclosure areas which corresponded to exhibition spaces. The enclosures look like giant coiling tubes, and they provide structural integrity.
4256It is 270 meters long and is made of fiberglass enforced concrete. Hadid wanted nature to permeate the building and took into account the direction of the winds. Outside air cools the space even in the heat of summer. zaragoza_3The Expo was focused on water sustainability. I think it was an excellent idea to build the hall as a large bridge. This is something I couldn’t have imagined unless I had seen it! The way the building integrates wind cooling and natural views blows my mind.

Vitra Fire House — Zaha Hadid

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I would have never imagined this building was once a fire house by simply looking at it! Zaha Hadid’s designs in general were so imaginative people didn’t think they could actually be created. This 1993 building proved them wrong! Unfortunately, the building is no longer a fire house and is now an event center.


This was among Hadid’s first buildings to be built. Her imaginative artwork came to life as a functional space. The concrete planes of the building shape and define the street running through the complex. They also announce that the Vitra Campus, on which it was built, is not part of the surrounding neighborhood.
5100I can see how it gives the impression of an emergency. I would normally expect bright red colors, a big garage, and large signs. However, this building is the shape of an emergency with its abrupt edges. It looks like a building that isn’t standing still because the lines and angles imply movement through space.

Rockefeller Center and Plaza

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I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time here. I would have loved to join the crowd of people enjoying a New York City evening at the Rockefeller Plaza ice rink. It was below sidewalk level, so one could look down into a new world. It felt like a friendly place with all the world flags and interesting things to look at. Then I went inside the Rockefeller Building, which was once the tallest building in the world.


See how I couldn’t photograph the whole building at once? This was before panorama existed on iPhones. The elevator ride was fast and clear to the outside, so my friends and I could watch the journey. It also had fun multi-color lights. I recommend chewing gum while riding because your ears will need to pop very quickly!


At the top, there were some escalators that led to the “outdoor” observation decks. There were thick glass panels, which made it impossible to take good pictures! The thin lines between panels made it windy and cold too. The Empire State building has green lights in this picture. On other parts of the deck, I could look out at the water (which was recognizable because it didn’t have lights) and see the Statue of Liberty. I think visiting during the day would have been interesting for comparison.

Considering the building and the Plaza, I liked being in the Plaza better. The view was nice from the Top of the Rock, but this was the perspective of the ultra-rich John D. Rockefeller, which I just couldn’t relate to.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum

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This is a museum for rock ‘n roll, so it can’t look like some boring old museum!



It is a very interesting triangular building in Cleveland, Ohio. Up close, it looks like you could climb up the slanted glass for fun, but it is a bit intimidating, like pyramids of Egypt. Perhaps the shape was chosen to symbolize the immortality of stars or the mysticism and controversy that has surrounded this style of music. Only the worthiest rockers are preserved in the museum, and there is much debate over why certain acts haven’t been inducted yet.


Like other museums, there are many visual displays. Rotating sequined Michael Jackson glove, anyone? There is a special room that pays homage to various acts over time to introduce some variety to the museum and encourage visitors to return. I would have liked the theme to be Led Zeppelin, but it was Grateful Dead at the time. There is an area of the museum where visitors can browse thousands of recordings, so I enjoyed Led Zeppelin that way instead.


For a museum with good looks and a nice view, I felt controversy and tension inside! I never felt the need to debate with others the timeline of prehistoric creatures when I visited the Sam Noble Museum. I never felt the need to debate the location of the modern sculptures in the Fred Jones Museum of Art. I am generally not the argumentative type, but I felt the need to debate the rankings and displays in this museum. I bit my tongue most of the time because I did not go with people who fully understood.

I will return to this subjective and slightly spiritual museum someday, and I will bring rock-literate counterparts so we can discuss these things, for days if necessary.


Carnegie Hall

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No, not Carnegie, Oklahoma…

When you come from a small town, nobody knows what this place is. I know what this place is, and I know it exceptionally well because my high school band got to perform here in good ol’ New York, New York. My biggest regret is that I didn’t take any pictures of it for myself!

Carnegie Hall  is a prestigious concert venue in midtown Manhattan, designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by Andrew Carnegie in 1891. It was built entirely of masonry, but now it has a metal frame around some added studios.



There was a time in 1960 when the building had no owner and was almost demolished to make room for a skyscraper. Resident artists fought to keep the building, and it was made a National Historic Landmark in 1962. Now it is not owned by any one person, but the nonprofit Carnegie Hall Corporation.  A lot of the time, people walking by on the street can just go inside and watch a show. The public has an easier time going inside than the acts do!



This is the main auditorium, which has the perfect look for a stuffy, prestigious concert hall. Maybe it’s just the five levels of red velvet seats.


Walking out on the stage at first feels like stepping onto a different planet because it has a separate atmosphere. Footsteps and the clatter of chairs don’t resound through the auditorium, but when my band played our first warm-up note, the sound waves flowed like water all the way to the back. The cushioned seats and carpet cut down on unnecessary echo, but a hall always sounds better with a full crowd!


Catlett Music Center

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Julian White, post 1


As a music education major, I am very familiar with the Catlett Music Center building, located on the corner of Boyd and Elm Street. Music students affectionately call it “Catlett High” because its musical community-fostering environment makes it feel like a high school. Plus, it has lockers.

catlett ground and basement

Finished in 1998, it was designed by Kaighn Associates Architects, Inc. and Bauer Stark and Lashbrook, Inc. in a joint venture partnership. It has characteristics of the campus-wide Cherokee gothic style, but it has a unique way of showing it.

The exterior of the building is a long and tall shape with jagged triangles and turrets forming the walls. The copper roof is dark and ridged, and rainwater runoff dyes the concrete green. The building has a partial second floor and partial basement. (There is also a secret office on what would be the third floor.) The classrooms form a grid around two outdoor courtyards concealed within the walls of the building.

gothic hall noon

The main entrance leads to Gothic Hall(above photo), which lives up to its name. It looks like a gothic cathedral, complete with a sky high ceiling, stained glass, and a huge organ that was built especially for the hall. It can be Halloween every day when you visit Gothic Hall and hear an organist practicing at midnight.

gothic hall glass

The stained glass in the large window panes is simple, but still attractive. A fun pastime is to take selfies when the sun casts the blue and green colors at face level. In this photo, you can also see the web-like support for the tall ceiling.

Aside from Gothic Hall, which can be used as a performance venue for organ and chamber music, there is the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall and the Pitman Recital Hall. There are also three large rehearsal spaces for choir, band, and orchestra. At the bottom of the ramp coming from Gothic Hall is the Fine Arts Library. My favorite place to work in the library is underneath the slanted window ceiling towards Boyd Street.

When people speak about OU, my mind goes to this building by default because I have had most of my classes here since freshman year.  When I visit music facilities at other colleges, they feel boring and depressing by comparison. I feel that some of my collegiate identity lies with this unique building, and it helps me take ownership of my education.