Kaufman Astoria Studios
Kaufman Astoria Studios is New York City’s oldest film studio. Unlike most studios with land to spread out amongst numerous single-story buildings, the new building contends with the dense, urban neighborhood of Astoria, Queens. The four-story building houses two black-box soundstages at the base, production support and leasable office space above, and parking garage in the cellar below that serves the entire campus.
The building is conceived as two stacked forms with different programmatic and technical requirements. The 40-foot tall solid base is a controlled environment using mass to keep sound and light out. The porous top embraces daylight and views with a regularized module of large windows allowing flexible configuration of internal spaces. Acoustic separation between stage and city, and between stage and spaces above and below, are the most critical technical aspects of the design. The neighborhood is a mix of manufacturing and residential zoning districts coexisting side-by-side. Urbanistically, the large scale of the base is mitigated with a pattern of incisions in the façade that change in prominence during the day based on the angle of the sun. In the evening, illuminated lines embedded in the building’s surface activate and provide safety at the sidewalk. Terraces allow engagement with the local neighborhood as well as production activity on the backlot below, while enjoying panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline. The entrance at the center of building is marked by a simple inflection of façade that leads to the main lobby and a grand staircase connecting the floors.