With his Isolated Building Studies, sociologist David Schalliol is seeking the visual confluence of his interests in urban dynamism, socioeconomic inequality, and photography. By using uniform composition in photographs of Chicago buildings with no neighboring structures, he wants to draw attention to new ways of seeing the common impact of divergent investment processes on urban communities.
Isolated Building 230, 2007 – „Unlike a typical typological project, I intentionally interject environmental differences into the Isolated Building Studies – particularly variations in weather and light. Snow is among my favorite conditions, because it transforms Chicago for brief periods of time, often covering signs of dereliction and evoking moods difficult to capture during “better” weather.“
Isolated Building Study 22(2), 2012 – "This house is the only building I’ve photographed twice for the project: once in snow
and this view in fog. In this photograph, I am attracted to the interplay between the
different light sources and the fog: the bluish white of the freight yard, the red of the parked
car, and the yellow of Chicago’s streetlights – each a representation of the forces that
define the place."
Isolated Building Study 657, 2016 – "While the majority of the buildings I’ve photographed for the project are residential, I also seek out mixed-use, commercial, and other building types because of the important roles they play in communities. This recent photograph is a favorite because the building’s numerous signs so exuberantly proclaim that – and how – the building is occupied."
Isolated Building Study 593, 2012 – "Among the other essential elements of the project are the occasional photographs of
people. I am struck by how many contemporary views of the urban landscape are devoid of actual human beings, and I believe it is important to remind viewers of their presence,
especially in circumstances where the character of the landscape may suggest the lack of human intervention."
Isolated Building Study 11, 2007 - "Despite this photograph being one of the first I made for the project, it remains one of my favorites. Of course, the fog provides a special atmosphere, but I continue to be drawn to the simple dignity of the building: its two-tone brick, the bold cornice, and the tidy yard."
Isolated buildings are particularly useful for the exploration of neighborhood transformation and its social correlates, because they are immediately recognized as unusual. As urban buildings, their form illustrates their connection with adjacent structures: vertical, boxy, an architecture confined by palpably limited parcels. When their neighboring buildings are missing, a tension emerges: The urban form clashes with the seemingly suburban, even rural setting. Thoughtfully engaging the landscape requires further investigation to resolve this tension: Why is this building isolated? It is from this fundamental friction that the Isolated Building Studies launches.
View the full article in Topos 97.