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UCLA Magazine Winter 2003
The Rising
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Sensing the Future
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Winter 2003
THE RISING
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Slideshow iconView a slideshow of Richard Ehrlich's images. [This slideshow is graphics intensive and requires Flash 5 or greater]
As a physician, Richard Ehrlich admires the new UCLA hospital as a technological wonder. As a photographer, he marvels at its startling beauty

Photography by Richard Ehrlich
Article
by David Greenwald

At least once a week for the past two years, Richard Ehrlich has put on a hardhat, grabbed his cameras and headed into the pit from which UCLA’s new hospital is rising. For the next five or six hours, he wanders the site, his artist’s eye on the lookout for images of beauty amid the sweat and grit of construction.

Among the thousands of images Ehrlich has captured are pictures of surprising delicacy. The jutting of rebar and steel play off of each other, creating patterns of broken light and interlacing shadow. Brawny workers strapped into safety harnesses are cantilevered from vertical faces. Iron beams with patinas of umber rust bear coded instructions scrawled in chalk that describe exactly where and how to place uprights and cross members.

“The construction workers would ask why I wanted to take pictures of ugly steel,” Ehrlich says. “But the steel is amazing and beautiful. It is like looking at abstract painting.”

The pictures indeed are lovely and powerful at the same time, but since he embarked on this project, Ehrlich has looked upon the construction of the new I. M. Pei-designed hospital with more than just a photographer’s sensibility. As a physician — the windows of his sixth-floor office in 100 Medical Plaza overlook the site to the north — Ehrlich sees, too, the majesty of what will transpire within the walls once the building is completed by the end of 2005. The new hospital will replace UCLA’s old medical center, which was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and will be one of the first structures in the state to meet stringent 2008 California earthquake-safety standards for hospital construction.

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