by | 02. Nov 2012

Cultural | Educational | Project

Image courtesy Diller + Scofidio

The Eyebeam facility in Chelsea will be the city’s first institution dedicated exclusively to new media art and the largest institution of its kind in the United States.

Hhousing an exhibition space, artist-in-residence studios, an education center with multi-media classrooms, a state-of-the art new media theater, a digital archive, a restaurant, and a bookstore. It will be dedicated to exploring – through the vehicle of new technologies – the connection between science and art.

The structure will be approximately 90,000 square feet, rising from a 15,000 square-foot site. Construction is due to begin in 2004.

We are thrilled to have been selected. The Eyebeam project is at the intersection of our passions, architecture and new media art. The great challenge ahead is to reconcile their discrepancy in speed: architecture is permanent by nature and new media is transient by definition. We will have to invent the map as we navigate it.
/ Elizabeth Diller

Image courtesy Diller + Scofidio

The spatial logic of the proposed building is based on a simple premise: a pliable ribbon that locates production (atelier) to one side and presentation (museum/theater) to the other. This ribbon undulates from side to side as it climbs vertically from the street. The floor becomes wall, turns into floor, turns into wall, etc. With each change of direction, the ribbon enfolds a production space or a presentation space, alternately. The combing of programs also combs together two diverse populations: the building’s residents (students, artists, and staff) and the building’s visitors (museum and theatergoers). The alternating programs require each population to pass through the space of the other while moving between successive levels.


Image courtesy Diller + Scofidio

The relationships become more intricate when a loop of ribbon at one level is sheared in half and slipped into alignment with a level above or below. The new alignment allows a production space to infiltrate a presentation level or vice versa. This controlled contamination juxtaposes technical processes with their effects, people at work with people at leisure, the prosaic with the poetic.

The adjacency of a brightly lit atelier space of experimentation and the theatrical ambience of a multi-media installation may raise the question, which is the spectacle? Residents and visitors will observe one another as they move fluidly through the building sometimes on parallel paths separated by a transparent prophylactic, sometimes crossing paths, sometimes merging paths and sharing programs.


Image courtesy Diller + Scofidio

The ribbon is two-ply with a technical space sandwiched between layers that houses the building’s “nervous” system. The smooth concrete ply facing the exhibition space has a real pattern of precast service jacks. The ply of modularized panels facing the atelier permits easy access to the interstitial space for rewiring and servicing of exhibition needs at specific locations below or above.


Image courtesy Diller + Scofidio

The interlaced production and the presentation programs each have distinct physical attributes: while the production spaces require an even distribution of natural light and artificial light for day/night work, the exhibition spaces require a high degree of light control and sound isolation. Effectively these requirements necessitate that the fluid spaces of exhibition and the fluid spaces of production each constitute a discrete building: one filled with light and one that can be darkened. The levels of these buildings appear to be “shuffled together” like a deck of cards, their qualities put into relief on the facade.


CITY New York, New York
ARCHITECT Helfland Myerberg Guggenheimer