Page E1.1 . 17 April 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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  • New Home for Old Photos
  • Cool and Green

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    New Home for Old Photos

    by B.J. Novitski

    Last year, the American Academy in Rome moved its valuable photographic archive to a newly renovated villa built in the early 1920s. The challenge for Studio Abbate & Vigevano, the architects designing the villa's renovation, was to create a delightful, daylit interior while protecting the delicate negatives from heat and humidity. They call the result a "minimalist model of sustainable architecture."

    The period photographs of architecture, art, archeology, and landscape constitute a resource of great documentary value. The academy has acquired the collection over the years from master photographers and scholars active as early as the second half of the 19th century. It is now housed in a "controlled environment" building that is nonetheless a low consumer of electricity for lighting and cooling.

    The long, narrow, 1500-square-foot (140 square-meter), two-story building accommodates a viewing room, offices, a restoration workshop, the archives, and a room for storing the negatives in conditions of low temperature and controlled humidity. A large north-facing window in the reading room and a skylight that spans the width of the building over the central stair provide illumination that is abundant yet nondestructive to photosensitive materials.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    Above the central stair of the American Academy in Rome's new photographic archive is a skylight providing abundant illumination.
    Photo: Studio Face2Face

    ArchWeek Image

    The long axis of the building is accentuated by continuous views through offices to windows at the end.
    Photo: Studio Face2Face


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