The Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

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the-elinor-bunin-munroe-film-centerThe Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

David Rockwell, the new York based architect has just completed work on the new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Centre ,  a public multi-screen theatre and cultural complex in the heart of the Lincoln Center in New York, and I thought it might be of interest.

The Lincoln Centre is the world’s leading performing arts centre and is home to 12 world-class arts institutions including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet and the New York City Opera.

The Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center is a collaboration between The Film Society and Lincoln Center, is a state-of-the-art, interactive media destination with acoustic and aesthetic elements. David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group have artfully turned existing, underutilized office space and a parking garage into a series of street-level spaces that will catch the eye of visitors with cinema-inspired design and the comforts of a modern theatre.  The new space consists of two Theatres, an amphitheatre and a café.


The bright orange glass crystalline-shaped portal vestibule up lit by in-ground lights at the entrance to the new Film Center serves as a beacon for those walking down 65th Street. The flanking exterior glass facade is imprinted with the names of over 1,000 films that have been screened at Film Society.


The accessible and welcoming nature of the new Film Center is reflected in the industrial, simple materials such as the poured concrete floor and Venetian plaster ceiling, and the splashes of the signature bright orange color, as in the entry vestibule. One wall will feature information displays, while others will house a box office window (2 others are outside), and 3 ticket kiosks.


Adjacent to the lobby is the café, which will be operational in the morning hours before the rest of the Center is open, establishing the Film Center as a meeting hub for New Yorkers as opposed to simply a movie Theatre. Movable glass partitions can close the café off from the lobby, or open it up for more fluid flow, or larger events. The concession window will have a maple wood frame and an orange resin counter. In the café windows will be exterior and interior-facing 42” digital posters of streaming scheduling and upcoming movie trailers.


The addition of the amphiTheatre to the Film Society’s portfolio will dramatically augment the opportunities for filmmaker dialogues and panel discussions, while also providing a home for new educational programs, interactive lectures and other extra-cinematic events for film fans. The amphiTheatre will be an open, informal space that can be closed off with a 16 foot wide garage door for more intimate events. It will feature a 152” Panasonic plasma screen—the largest plasma screen to date in the world; tiered cushioned bench seating for up to 87; maple strip flooring that cascades down the risers and has the visual effect of wrapping the space; a wood ceiling punctuated with acoustical slots; and glass side walls that change in hue from frosted up to translucent.


From the seasoned movie lover to the burgeoning art student, the Film Center’s two new state-of-the-art cinemas will provide the most discerning filmgoers all the comforts expected of the modern multiplex experience. Both the 144-seat Francesca Beale Theatre and the intimate 87-seat Howard Gilman Theatre feature meticulously designed cushioned seats, wide aisles and stadium seating with unobstructed sightlines in an elegant, satisfying setting.

Details such as custom faceted perforated metal, acoustically absorptive wall panels abstractly designed to look like flowing curtains typically found in Italian opera houses in the 1920s in the Francesca Beale Theatre, and resin and blackened wood backlit pilasters bracketing the screen in the Howard Gilman Theatre will add to both the practicalities of the movie viewing experience as well as the aesthetics of the look and design.

The two theatres will accommodate multiple formats of film, digital, video, and live feeds. With the existing Walter Reade Theatre located across the street, the Film Society will now have a total of three screens, as well as the amphitheatre.