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Pratt Institute Film Department Building

WASA/Studio A

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  • Architect: Jack Esterson

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15,000 sq. feet

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Pratt Institute recently opened its new Film Department building in Brooklyn, designed by WASA/Studio A.

Project Description


Pratt Institute, a renowned New York City-based college that educates creative thinkers from around the world, recently opened a new home for its Film/Video Department: a state-of-the-art facility in the former Prattstore building at 550 Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn. The 15,000-square-foot facility, designed by WASA/Studio A with lead architect and Pratt alumnus Jack Esterson, is located in close proximity to Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and contributes to the expanding presence of motion media in the Borough of Brooklyn. 

Pratt already has more than doubled its freshman class for the 2015-2016 since the opening of the new building. The Film/Video department currently includes approximately 80 students across its four-year curriculum and the new facility will allow it to significantly increase its enrollment as well as offer new courses. 

“We’re thrilled to open a cutting-edge facility where students and faculty can further explore the art of filmmaking and video production on Myrtle Avenue,” said Pratt Institute President Thomas F. Schutte, who is a founding member, trustee, and chair of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership. “With many important film and video businesses calling Brooklyn their home, the new space will enable us to build even closer relationships with the nearby filmmaking community and generate new academic and professional opportunities for our creative and gifted students,” he added.

Anchored by stunning interior architectural features, the construction for the Film/Video facility began in July 2014 and the renovation cost approximately $4.5 million. The department was previously housed in the lower level of an on-campus athletic facility.

“Brooklyn has emerged as the hot new destination for television and film production," said Carlo A. Scissura, President and CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.  "The recent opening of Pratt's cutting-edge Film/Video facility for its students will provide the borough's booming film scene with an incredible pool of talented graduates and further positions Brooklyn as the top destination for future industry leaders." 

The new Pratt space was built using free-span trusses, giving it 23-foot ceiling heights and no internal columns. In the new building, the faculty and students have access to: 

·     A 96-seat screening room with a Digital Cinema Package projector        and surround sound.
·    One large soundstage capable of converting into two and a second        smaller soundstage with an infinity green screen that together                comprise 3,000 square feet.
·    A sound recording studio with surround-sound capability.
·    Two high-end color grading and post production suites.

In addition to these features, Pratt Architecture Professor Haresh Lalvani, whose innovative sculptural work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, created a series of perforated metal panels specifically for the site that wrap around the entrance lobby and both the first and second floors. The artwork was donated by Lalvani, and the materials and fabrication of the work were donated by Bruce Gitlin, Chair of Pratt Institute’s Board of Trustees and CEO of renowned metal fabrication company Milgo/Bufkin. 

“The students, faculty, and alumni in our program have much to celebrate with this new building as a place to explore and shape their artistic vision,” said Gerry Snyder, Dean of Pratt Institute’s School of Art, which includes the Film/Video Department. “The new footprint on campus gives our award-winning faculty the space to educate the next generation of innovators in motion media,” he added.

As part of the department’s pedagogical approach, program faculty provide students with professional training, immersing them in the process of writing, directing, and editing films using traditional and non-traditional media. They encourage students to develop individual, creative methods to explore the art form and help students understand their work in the context of contemporary culture. The Institute’s new film minor, which was first offered in 2014, facilitates cross-pollination of Film/Video with other disciplines including fashion, fine arts, architecture, humanities, and photography.

“Motion media is everywhere and has become as essential as the written word in communicating stories and ideas,” said Jorge Oliver, a well-known filmmaker, actor, and educator who became Chair of the Film/Video Department in summer 2014. "It is important for students to be exposed to advanced filmmaking technology and different modes of expression in order to tell compelling visual stories across different platforms. This is an essential part of Pratt Institute’s Film/Video Department curriculum and a skill that our students need to succeed in this competitive industry.”    

The George I. Alden Trust awarded Pratt Institute a generous grant to underwrite the purchase of sound mixing and recording equipment providing students access to exemplary academic and post production resources in the new Film/Video building.

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