From the outside, the Anthology Film Archives appears to be a modestly sized brick building cornering the busy streets of E. 2nd St. and 2nd Ave. in the Lower East Side. But inside the classical masonry cube exists one of the most enticing gems in the independent film world. The Anthology, equipped with one of the largest film archives, is a crucial cultural institution that supports young filmmakers as well as independent cinema research and education. Now, more than 30 years after its last transformation, the building is finally getting the makeover it was always destined to have. New York City–based Bone Levine Architects has been collaborating with the Anthology for the past four years to devise the best strategies for expanding the building to accommodate new programming and update the existing facilities. “We want to get the Anthology in shape for the next 50 years so this institution has viability,” stated Kevin Bone. The final proposal for the renovations was recently approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and construction is set to be complete by 2020. The brick building, originally constructed as a municipal courthouse in 1919, was reopened as the Anthology in 1988 after the institution moved from its former location in Soho. The initial transformation from courthouse to cinema was led by architect Raimund Abraham (1933-2010), although his plans for the full revival of the art house were put on halt, until now. Kevin Bone of Bone Levine Architects, who worked as an associate to Raimund Abraham, told The Architect’s Newspaper that in 1988 “a lot of our ambitions were cut back in beginning [because of a limited budget]. It was ‘let’s make the basic building function the best as we can.’” Thirty-five years later, the building's transformation is finally happening. Primary features of the renovation consist of a one-story addition that will house the expanded library, a new roof terrace area, and the development of the site's alleyway space as a cafe. The firm settled on cladding the additional story with coated copper panels and a bronze wire mesh screen. “We felt that the notion of an architectural metal addition was the most appropriate so that the artifact, the masonry artifact... was best left as a pure artifact and the additional elements were clearly identified as belonging to their own vocabulary.” This juxtaposition is also carried out in the development of the alleyway connecting the Anthology with its neighboring warehouse. Greatly inspired by Abraham’s original designs, the 12-foot-wide alley space is going to be encased in a glass and iron cylindrical form. “In Raimund’s case that cylinder became a stop, that was a filler within that void between the two buildings... and was not intended to be an opening to the building.... We wanted to reverse that language and make this cylinder a kind of lantern that can be illuminated, and provide a secondary entrance into the Anthology facilities and into [the] cafe.” The isolated entrance allows the cafe to be distinguished as a separate space and opens it up to the public to provide “some badly needed public space.” The approval from the LPC for the Anthology expansion was particularly uncertain due to the visibility of the renovations on a historic building. Bone praised the LPC for “recognizing that historic buildings that are occupied by cultural institutions might need to transform to remain viable and that may require a slightly more courageous strategy towards the architecture… we are really happy to be a part of that.” Although the building is only in its fifth year of being a historic landmark, the architects are committed to preserving the Anthology’s authenticity and respect the cinema’s historical structure. “The integrity of the Anthology is impeccable,” stated Bone, “[and] that was part of [the designs]. What could we do for ourselves, on our own, that is exclusively devoted to the mission of the Anthology Archives.”
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Most New Yorkers know Housing Works though cheerfully crammed thrift stores where vintage blazers, crystal candy dishes, and nice books can be had for good prices. Yet the storefronts are infrastructure for a larger mission: As its name suggests, Housing Works provides housing and social services to homeless New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS. A new project by a Columbia curator teases many stories out of the documents stretching back to its founding in 1990, when the city had few of supportive housing for an estimated 13,000 homeless citizens with HIV/AIDS. Housing Works History is a meticulous digital archive that covers the organization from its founding 27 years ago to its work today in a multimedia timeline that's as elegant as it is thorough. Timed to the 30th anniversary of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), the grassroots group and Housing Works precursor that formed in response to government inaction around HIV/AIDS, Housing Works History speaks to the past and future of supportive housing in New York for the most marginalized groups. That housing, and the activism that made it happen, shaped the city subtly but profoundly. "Focusing on physical spaces gave me a way in, a way to talk about the history, the stories, and the different voices from those spaces," said Gavin Browning, the curator behind Housing Works History. Drawing on his academic background in urban planning and his work at Columbia University (he's the director of public programs and engagement at Columbia University School of the Arts, and the inaugural director of Studio-X), Browning's project provides a forum for a distinctly New York story. Inspired by oral history and the Howard Zinn–esque bottom-up approach to historiography, Housing Works History sorts each significant event, program, or housing milestone chronologically along with links to important court rulings, scanned newspaper clippings, photographs, video, and other ephemera, grounded by parallel timelines of diagnosis and infection rates. The juxtaposed timelines, Browning said, help connect data to lived experience to "expose an archive that wasn't being seen or used, or really acknowledged. Most people don't know this history, and how it's connected to the development of the city. It's really essential New York City history." A click on the year 2000 brings viewers, via archival footage, to the Housing Works Gay Pride parade float, and to the organization's stewardship of two brownstones on West 130th Street, a project started by community group Stand Up Harlem. The project is a platform for collective voices that have shaped the organization and the movement it foregrounds, as well as a window into how a social movement shaped architecture and design in New York. Long abandoned, those brownstones were transformed into supportive housing for substance users. Designed by architect Benjamin Kracauer, the Stand Up Harlem House opened in 2008 and provides 16 units for single adults and families affected by HIV/AIDS. The design connects two adjacent brownstones but moves entryways to the garden level, providing streetscape continuity while allowing for greater accessibility. In addition to the timeline, Browning collaborated with Laura Hanna to shoot five original films featuring the architects, activists, and Housing Works employees behind five of the organization's housing projects. In one, Browning interviews, roundtable-style, a Stand Up Harlem resident, Desi Glazier, program director Ivan Gonzales, a Housing Works attorney, and Kracauer. For the spatially-inclined, there's a map, too, that organizes the group's projects and significant sites. Housing Works History, Browning said, was influenced by Group Material's 1989 installation, AIDS Timeline, which used media, artifacts, and ephemera to document AIDS's evolution from its roots as a health issue to one that shaped LGBT and dominant culture. Close to home, the project grew from a 2012 project Browning curated with Karen Kubey in New York. Living Room: Housing Works Builds Housing explored the group's activism and advocacy that led to the construction of 170 units in three neighborhoods for its target population. Despite his work, Browning isn't employed by for Housing Works; he obtained project funding from the Graham Foundation. Though the website officially debuts today, Housing Works History's official launch party is next week at the New York Pubic Library's main branch (details here). Browning sees the project as a "stepping stone" for other's work—he hopes, for example, the work could inspire others' academic research or ground perspectives on today's struggles for equity and visibility.
Last week, we highlighted historic mid-century modern architecture photographs digitized by the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. And now farther north on the west coast is another new archive find. The Seattle Public Library Special Collections—located on the top floor (nope, not relegated to a dusty basement as is often the case) of the OMA / Rem Koolhaas and LMN-designed Central Library in downtown Seattle—just digitized over 2,400 historic Space Needle construction photographs (and a daily construction log, too). Local Seattleite professional photographer George Gulacsik captured the construction details of the famous 605 foot tall Seattle landmark that took less than a year to build: there are photos of the cement pouring preparation, the painting, the fin raising, the visitors, onlookers, and more. Gulacsik took the photos between April 1961 and October 1962. There is even a photo of former President John F. Kennedy's motorcade taken from above, as Kennedy made his way through Seattle to give a speech at the University of Washington in November 1961. Many Gulacsik images were used as marketing in a 1962 promotional publication, "Space Needle USA." Gulacsik's wife donated his photos in 2010 after he passed away. The collection is named after him. The Space Needle is said to be inspired by the Stuttgart TV Tower in Germany. The design is typically credited to architecture firm John Graham and Company, Victor Steinbrueck, and John Ridley, who worked with businessman Edward E. Carlson and his napkin sketch concept. "Graham was excited by the challenge, and assembled a large team of associates including Art Edwards, Manson Bennett, Erle Duff, Al Miller, Nate Wilkinson, Victor Steinbrueck, and John Ridley," explains History Link, the online nonprofit Washington State history encyclopedia. "In working to translate Carlson’s doodle into blueprints, they explored a variety of ideas ranging from a single saucer-capped spire to a structure resembling a tethered balloon. Steinbrueck hit on a wasp-waisted tripod for the Space Needle’s legs and Ridley perfected the double-decked “top house” crown." Now we can view the collection from our armchairs, couches, and desks.