Getting Our Architecture Squarely in Focus

When the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs held an open call for photographers to document Las Vegas’ architecturally significant buildings for a permanent visual record, Jennifer Burkart and Ryan Reason, the talented duo behind Square Shooting Professional Photography, won the bid. Soon after, in September 2014, the pair ventured forth to capture photos of such buildings as the city’s first chapel (Wee Kirk o’ the Heather Wedding Chapel, built in 1940), first Catholic Church (St. Joan of Arc Parish, 1940) and the bar with the first liquor license (Atomic Liquors, 1952).

The result of their nine months of effort, In Focus: Downtown Architecture, commissioned by the Las Vegas Arts Commission under the Percent for the Arts Ordinance, opens at City Hall’s Chamber Gallery on September 17.

Burkart and Reason couldn’t be prouder of the work, or of Las Vegas itself.

“Our images represent the city we love. How cool is that?” Reason says. “This project may change preconceived notions of Las Vegas’ architecture.”

“Who else has a City Hall covered in LEDs?” Burkart says.

Carrying out a project of this caliber presented special challenges. It saw many predawn shoots and shouted threats from the characters who dot the streets of Downtown in the early morning hours. Undeterred, Burkart and Reason simply added safety whistles to their field kits.

In Focus: Downtown Architecture is not only visually impressive but it will leave our city with cohesive documentation of our most important and noteworthy structures. Which begs the question: Which buildings do Burkart and Reason wish they could have shot, to make the series truly complete?

“The Landmark,” Reason says. And after a moment, Burkart says, “The Huntridge Theater, pre-paint job.”

In Focus: Downtown Architecture

Through Nov. 19 at the Chamber Gallery in City Hall, 495 S. Main St. (Second Floor), 702-721-9893,

Opening reception

Sept. 17, 5-7 p.m.

Vegas Seven