Recently I had the great privilege of photographing the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, MA. The ISBCC is an amazing 68,000 square-foot mosque located at Roxbury Crossing and can accommodate up to 3000 worshipers. The ISBCC serves two purposes, as a house of worship and as a community center. Twenty years in the making, the mosque officially opened on June 26, 2009. The lead architect is Dr. Sami Angawi of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The mosque was designed to blend in with the surrounding Boston urban landscape and is constructed of red brick and tan tile work, similar to the neighboring buildings.
The mosque feels quite impressive from the street and I wanted the photographs to evoke that emotion. I was drawn to prominent features such as the minaret, the dome and the many archways. I had scouted the mosque a few times to get a good sense of how the light falls on the building. Facing north, the sun never illuminates the building head-on. Early morning and late afternoon are the only times light briefly hits the front facade. Consequently, I started the photo-shoot at 5:30am on a Sunday morning, when few cars would be on the street and the rising sun gradually illuminates the building.
Both the exterior and interior of the mosque contain archways serving as strong design elements. The exterior shots looking towards the left side of the mosque came together nicely, as did the detailed shots when I moved in closer onto the property. For the straight-on shot, I composed and then waited. Around 7am some sunlight barely grazed part of the front entryway. With the early morning light casting a warm glow on the red brick and the deep blue sky in the background, the mosque almost appeared to be glowing.
Moving inside presented it’s own challenges. The interior is partially unfinished and many vast areas exist. Eventually artwork and more permanent furniture will occupy these spaces. However, there is a strong element of symmetry in the vast spaces of the mosque. The repeating archways and dark-tiled reflective floors help to create a mirror of shapes and unique visages. Instead of approaching the shoot from a strictly architectural photographic perspective, I concentrated on capturing the inner harmony and synchronicity of the space.