The Moran Plant is an abandoned coal-burning power facility in Burlington, Vermont. Built in 1955, it powered this New England city for four decades until closing in 1986. Now, community leaders have launched a plan to renovate the decrepit building and its grounds into an event space for art, music, food and culture, all linked with bike paths along the Lake Champlain waterfront. Budnitz Bicycles*, based in Burlington, chose the Moran Plant for its photo shoot “Beautiful Decay” by photographer Dan Cardon.
Founded by designer-entrepreneur Paul Budnitz, Budnitz Bicycles is distinguished by its elegant frames, swooping tubes and top components including Gates Carbon Drive. We asked Budnitz, who is best known as the founder of art-toy brand Kidrobot, about his views on bike photography, bicycling in the Green Mountain State and more.
Gates: What role does artful photography play in creating a brand image?
Paul Budnitz: It’s very important. Our brand aesthetic is defined by beautiful design and clean lines. That’s why we use Gates Carbon Drive on all our titanium and steel bicycles. We go to great lengths to create photography that is evocative and tells a story. Form, function and beauty are fundamental to Budnitz Bicycles. If it it isn’t beautiful, it isn’t innovative.
Tell us about the Moran Plant.
We completely support the city-wide initiative to transform the Moran Plant into an events space dedicated to the arts and community. When we explored the building, it seemed like a perfect venue for a photo shoot. The space is immense and it offers many unique textures and angles frozen in time. Reflected light streams through windows hundreds of feet above. It’s spectacular. The decayed state of the 75-year-old building also provides a contrast to our bicycles, which are designed to last a lifetime. The building and its coal powered history are a monument to an outdated idea. Setting our bicycles against it’s time-worn walls offers a fitting contrast to our goal of creating products that last.
What’s the bike scene like in Burlington?
Burlington is extremely bike-centric and it’s one reason we are located here. There are extensive bike paths, especially along Lake Champlain and throughout the beautiful downtown. Local Motion, a non-profit we’ve supported through donations and bicycle auctions, works with the city to extend bicycle lanes and create initiatives for bicycle safety. There’s even a local charity that gives away hundreds of free bicycles each year in lower income neighborhoods. Several of our team members have donated their time. Add in Vermont beautiful green hills and incredible landscape and this is a truly perfect place for a bicycle lifestyle and our company. We’re so proud of our home that we offer new clients a discount to take delivery of their custom Budnitz here in our Vermont studio. It gives us the opportunity to share the region, spend time with our owners and of course enjoy some amazing riding.
*2021 blog update. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic Budnitz Bicycles is no longer in business.