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 Rochester New York: Designers of Museums,
Educational and Learning Centers.