Eastman Museum Visitor Center Concept

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MUSEUM/VISITOR CENTER CONCEPT
INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF FILM AND PHOTOGRAPHY
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK

 No, it is not the Guggenheim in Spain, far from it. It is a simple  conic armature structure sheathed in glass and perforated metal  that does not require structural gymnastics to build. It has its own language and borrows from no one.

 The design that I have created  was inspired by the efforts of its Director, Anthony Bannon. The Eastman Museum of Film and Photography is the most important photographic  archive in the world. I believe this design projects the iconic status of the Museum  into the future. It reflects the profound and exciting evolution of the medium that  has transpired and the leadership role of the museum in recording it.

To help to understand this design in context  we must glance back to my design of  the previous award winning addition in the early 1990’s.  At that time I chose to allow the Georgian/Colonial Revival architecture of the existing  museum to resonate within a contemporary vocabulary. That interpretation of the  original  style defined by J. Foster Warner would create a second time line within the  history of construction and architecture of the Museum. The symbolic qualities of a new Orientation Facility and Gallery would respond to the  exponential catapulting of the medium and the means of transmitting knowledge into  exciting and previously unknown realms which has occurred.

I realized that I had to  represent this progression in a much more radical design,  a third time line of  construction and Architecture on the George Eastman Campus.   A year ago I presented a preliminary sketch to Dr. Anthony Bannon. He was very  inspiring and motivated me to be truly creative, to express a truly a new form  daring to evoke the future of  photographic art rather than another recasting  of the existing architecture .

The  form of the new design was inspired by elements of the camera that George  Eastman invented which evolced into the new technology of the digital camera.  It is a unique/aggressive sculpture which generates a most elegant visual  quality over all.  It is a metaphor for a camera; a glass lens set in a high tech body  with inferred shutters, or a traditional camera body with electronic shutters  that are  represented by special folded glass. The resulting sculpture is composed of an armature of glass sheathed with perforated metal to diffuse all light that enters the  structure, completing the theme of shutter and aperture. This modulated light will bathe the interior but will shield the light sensitive photographs on display.  At night the Museum will be a beacon of veiled light to onlookers and serve  as the gateway to the Museum.

The interior of the building has no walls but has several floors that utilize stainless  steel rods suspended from the actual structure on which photo exhibits are placed  randomly. The open, radial plan allows one to wander throughout the gallery yet  never be lost in dead end spaces or corridors. The interior main floor use is  orientation for visitors and visiting researchers. The upper floors are  a multi- level display gallery. The circular shape of the building floors allows both directive  and free gazing or serious inspection of the displays.  This building will accommodate the uncharted technology yet to be seen. It is  inevitable that we must employ challenging Architecture that speaks a new language.

Bud DeWolff, AIA, RA, NCARB, INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF ARCHITECTS _______________________________________________________________________

DeWolff Architects: Designers of Museums, Educational and Learning Centers.