Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center
Film Society of Lincoln Center
144 West 65th Street
Architect: Rockwell Group
For one of Lincoln Center’s most popular and populist entities, the Film Society has had relatively low visibility at the cultural complex. That’s about to change with the June 17 opening of the Elinor Bunin Film Center on West 65th Street, which adds three screens and a cafe directly across from the Film Society’s long-time Walter Reade Theater on the north side of the street.
Rockwell Group’s mission was to transform a parking garage into what David Rockwell calls a “less formal” gathering place for Lincoln Center. The glassy facade containing the box-office bursts onto the street in bright orange, drawing visitors into the lobby and cafe through an entryway sparkling underfoot from hundreds of LED lights embedded flush with the ground.
In a nod to the space’s previous incarnation, a folding “garage door” of maple connects the lobby to the amphitheater, a 90-seat room with cushioned stadium seating by Rockwell with DKDI and a 152-inch Panasonic HD 3D plasma screen—billed as the world’s largest. Behind the amphitheater are two more screening rooms, with 150 and 90 seats, each with plush, extra-wide Series Seating chairs.
Acoustical walls are covered by undulating, perforated metal panels lined with sound-absorbing material that dampens noise from Lincoln Center’s mechanical plant, situated directly below.
The cafe in front is set to open mid-summer and will be visible to passersby through the glass street wall. “It’s really intended to be Lincoln Center’s living room,” David Rockwell said.