Good news for film fans. New York City's IFC Art House cinema on Sixth Avenue is set to expand, increasing the number of screens from 5 all the way up to 11. The expansion by Kliment-Halsband Architects is a refreshing change in the cinema world which has seen numerous theaters close down this year. By using a vacant plot adjacent to the IFC site, the cinema will be able to increase its footprint from 10,300 square feet to 20,000 square feet. This enables it to almost double its capacity from 480 people to 940 which will no doubt generate further revenue—something crucial for independent cinemas in New York. Architects are moving one original screen to the basement to create a larger lobby to deal with the anticipated volume of people. The area will double as space for parties and receptions. The new extension borders Cornelia Street in New York's West Village, but it will not change the existing center's main entrance on 6th Avenue. Speaking to IndieWire, John Vanco, senior vice president and general manager of the IFC Center, said, "After years of being the top-grossing venue in the country for many terrific specialized films like Boyhood, Citizenfour, Blue Is the Warmest Color and each annual edition of the 'Oscar-Nominated Short Films,' as well as hosting the nation’s largest documentary film festival, DOC NYC, it’s become clear that the audience for IFC Center's programming keeps growing, so to accommodate them, IFC Center needs to grow, too.” Just six years ago the cinema only had three screens. The architects declined to comment further on the design.
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In 2010, director Wim Wenders created a 3D video installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale about the Bolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, called If These Walls Could Talk. The ability to visually explore the building and simulate being inside the space that the medium affords inspired him to team up with Robert Redford to create a 3D series called Cathedrals of Culture, which will be shown at the IFC Center in New York beginning on May 1. And talk they do. There are six half-hour films, all by different directors, shown in two programs, and five of them are narrated by the buildings themselves. Each is given a voice, which describes the feelings and observations of the structures. So we hear in the first person from the Berlin Philharmonic (Hans Scharoun), the Oslo Opera House (Snohetta), Halden Prison (EMA), The National Library of Russia (Yegor Sokolov), and the Centre Pompidou (Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers). Only the Salk Institute (Louis Kahn) doesn’t employ this technique and is the most successful program. At Salk, it's the perfect melding of brief and building, science and art, the two sparking each other off to make magic. It is now complemented by a like-minded film. Directed by Robert Redford and with stunning cinematography by Ed Lachmann and music by Moby, the film captures the essence of the building and molds the spaces. Kahn’s structure clearly affects the work of the scientists, who speak about "genius loci," the spirit of place. There’s a wonderful image of the staff assembled in a circle and then fanning out across the plaza, like a living organism. We see and hear both Jonas Salk and Louis Kahn, and learn that they raised each other’s game and made a better building; Salk insisted Kahn throw out the first design, and Kahn rebuts that the client isn’t an architect. Then Salk says "eventually Lou Kahn became quite a biologist, and I came to appreciate the importance of aesthetics…to bring out the spirit and soul of man." The campus is filled with light, which hits home when Edward R. Murrow asks Salk who owns the patent for the polio vaccine?: "The people," he replies. "Would you patent the sun?" In the same program is the Centre Pompidou by Karim Ainouz, a Brazilian filmmaker who studied architecture. He spends most of the episode inside the building, maximizing 3D by floating through tunnels, galleries, elevators, back-of-house spaces and the main hall which is treated like an airport arrival and departure lounge. The shot of a window washer gliding up the clear glass-walled escalator holding a sponge in one hand followed by a squeegee in another and letting the upward glide of the moving staircase do the work is pure ballet. The voice of the building is Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum in London and former editor of Blueprint magazine, who intones "In a digital century, a world of flickering pixels… a machine for culture that I am, which once seemed so violent, so threatening, has the nostalgic charm now of a steam engine." IFC Center. http://www.ifccenter.com Part 1: The Berlin Philharmonic. Director, Wim Wenders The National Library of Russia. Director, Michael Glawogger Halden Prison. Director, Michael Madsen Part 2: The Salk Institute. Director, Robert Redford The Oslo Opera House. Director, Margreth Olin Centre Pompidou. Director, Karim Ainouz