At the end of January, the International Center of Photography (ICP) opened its new integrated center at the rapidly constructed Essex Crossing mega-development on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The new center, a three-story, 40,000-square-foot arts center by SHoP Architects with an interior designed by Gensler, is the ICP’s third home and the first to house both its educational facilities and curatorial spaces since its original location on Fifth Avenue.
Essex Crossing is a six-and-a-half acre site located on the southern border of Delancey Street master-planned by SHoP Architects and was built on land formerly razed for urban renewal efforts and left vacant for half a century. The bulk of the redevelopment consists of mixed-use towers—ICP is located at the podium level of one of the projects—but is studded with several publicly accessible venues such as the new home of the Essex Street Market.
SHoP’s design runs through the entire block, with a glazed facade on the east elevation and one of patterned aluminum for the service entrance to the west (the western facade covers a blank wall, lending the illusion of a brise-soleil and breaking up a monolithic street presence). The ground floor houses a cafe and largely serves as a point of circulation for the galleries, library, and the school above. The ICP’s new central gallery is a double-height space defined by a concrete-and-metal material palette and is flooded with natural light from the eastern glazed facade. The entire exhibition room is ringed by a catwalk which provides a top-down viewing perspective of the hall while simultaneously lined with smaller works. A multimedia gallery located on the third-floor functions as both a curatorial and event space.
As an educational institution, the ICP hosts programs, courses, and workshops for over 3,500 students annually. Facilities include darkrooms, shooting studios, digital media labs, amongst others. The focal point of the educational amenities is a double-height library of metal-and-wood framing accessible to both members and guests.
The COVID-19 outbreak has, unfortunately, also led to the temporary closure of the ICP and its inaugural exhibitions; Tyler Mitchell:I Can Make You Feel Good; CONTACT HIGH: A Visual History of Hip-Hop; James Coupe: Warriors; The Lower East Side, and Selections from the ICP Collection. While the Center will be closed for the foreseeable future, thousands of images and interviews from its collection have been made available to the general public online.