Dennis Maitland shoots the city from its highest perches, all while conquering his fear of heights

When architect Louis Sullivan began cultivating Chicago’s vertical growth with some of the world’s first skyscrapers, he famously cloaked his steel high-rises with images of vegetation. Embellishing the tops of his multistory buildings with iron-cast flora, Sullivan sought to evoke the image of a novel breed of architecture sprouting upwards from the fertile American soil. He quickly recognized how the skyscraper would change the experience of the city, how a soaring building would be read from street level, and how Americans could gaze upwards and project their nation’s values of collective advancement onto the towering facades of his "form follows function" designs.

Almost a century later, Detroit-based photographer Dennis Maitland has conceived of a new way to see the city, turning the experience of the skyscraper up on its head. In a series called "Life on the Edge," Maitland climbs atop some of the highest perches in his hometown, dangles his feet precariously over the edge, focuses his lens downwards, and snaps a photo that is sure to induce perspiration. Maitland not only documents his personal overcoming of a fear of heights, but he captures views of Detroit that elevate city streets from their quotidian designation and paint a new image of our built environment.

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: bicyclists in Paris during a transit strike in December.
    Transportation

    Paris Mayor: It's Time for a '15-Minute City'

    In her re-election campaign, Mayor Anne Hidalgo says that every Paris resident should be able to meet their essential needs within a short walk or bike ride.

  2. photo: a wallet full of Yen bills.
    Life

    Japan’s Lost-and-Found System Is Insanely Good

    If you misplace your phone or wallet in Tokyo, chances are very good that you’ll get it back. Here’s why.

  3. Transportation

    Inside a Pedestrian-First ‘Superblock’

    A short film reveals the inner workings of Barcelona’s celebrated—and controversial—street revamps.

  4. photo: Utah Department of Transportation workers inspect a highway bridge under construction on Interstate 15 in American Fork, Utah.
    Transportation

    What 4 Years of Trump’s Transportation Budgets Add Up to

    In his 2021 budget request, President Trump sends mixed messages about federal funding for highways, bridges, and railways. Sound familiar?

  5. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

×