Centripetal Gallery of the Image

Graduate Studio Project at Princeton University
Project team: Rennie Jones, Lily Zhang
Instructor: Paul Lewis

As film was developing into a means of approximating motion through video, Thomas Edison was constructing the Black Maria, now widely regarded as the first recording studio. The Centripetal Gallery is situated on Edison’s laboratory complex in West Orange, New Jersey, which now operates as a museum of Edison curios and inventions. The gallery surrounds the Black Maria and serves as a mechanism for viewing the studio in all of its historic iterations, including the film, drawing, and motion picture artifacts that serve as exhibition material for museum visitors. A single concrete wall supports the circular structure, allowing the building to span above the existing concrete vault and form a trombe wall to efficiently capture winter solar radiation. The floor of the gallery is gently sloped and accessible as a single, continuous path that leads visitors around, into the courtyard, and onto the vault. Apertures in the concrete wall focus outward views corresponding to exhibition material. Wooden frames stand above the building to form a sunshade, create enclosed porch space, and orchestrate the procession toward the Black Maria.