In another life I would have studied architecture. Maybe I'll do so yet in this life. I know a building can make a person feel many things: intimidated, safe, wealthy, poor, lonely or loved. Great cathedrals stir our hearts. Halls of justice hush our voices. Ancient ruins wake us to our dreams.
Pasadena City Hall offers serenity. I don't know how a structure can do that, but again and again I find it to be true. When City Hall was designed in the mid-1920s by the architectural firm of Bakewell and Brown, they did several things to create serenity. One was to make the building symmetrical, which soothes the senses. Another was to build a courtyard and add a fountain and benches, making a cloistered garden for contemplation and quiet.
Then they created views. No matter where you look, they've placed something there for you to see. At every angle there's a beautiful scene, a "photo op," if you will. I return again and again to take pictures; it's hard to take a bad one of the place. But the photos aren't the only reason I go.
(Check out Pasadena PIO for archival shots of City Hall's construction.)