ZAHNER FACADES IN FEATURE FILMS

Cinematic and architectural design have played off of and inspired one another since the creation of moving pictures. Films like Metropolis (1927) with its fabricated, futuristic city-scape took inspiration from the architectural drawings of Antonio Sant’Elia.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater inspired Alfred Hitchcock to design an elaborate set in Wright's style for his film North by Northwest (1959).

Recently, two buildings engineered and fabricated by Zahner have helped enhance the narratives of a privacy flippant technology company (The Circle) and the ever-present struggle between good and evil in the world of DC Comics (Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice).

The Circle (2017) tells the story of Mae who lands her dream job at The Circle, a leading tech company whose nefarious agenda, she discovers, could affect the privacy of all humanity. Production designer, Gerald Sullivan, wanted the company’s set to feel open, spacious and democratic, a theme that permeates the film even though we eventually see the disastrous effects too much transparency can create.

Emerson College featured in The Circle. Design by M0rphosis, fabrication by Zahner.
Emerson College featured in The Circle. Design by M0rphosis, fabrication by Zahner.
Film still from The Circle featuring Emerson College in Los Angeles as The Circle's corporate campus.
Film still from The Circle featuring Emerson College in Los Angeles as The Circle's corporate campus.

The Los Angeles campus of Boston's Emerson College serves as part of The Circle's company campus. In the scene above, Mae walks with two colleagues across a bridge that, in actuality, connects student housing with educational areas. M0rphosis designed the louvered aluminum screen and painted aluminum facade, which was custom engineered and fabricated by Zahner. The design reinforces the film's intent to convey cutting-edge, technologically designed environments and mimics similar technological advances created in the plot.

The actual campus appropriately offers classes in film and performing arts. 

Exterior of Emerson College across Sunset Boulevard.
Exterior of Emerson College across Sunset Boulevard.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, located on the campus of Michigan State University, features prominently in Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) as Lex Luthor’s home. Designed by Zaha Hadid and fabricated in stainless steel with a custom Angel Hair finish by Zahner, the angular, sharply skewed lines of the structure reinforce the bitter, callous nature of Lex Luthor’s character.

Exterior of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.
Exterior of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.
Film still from Batman Vs. Superman featuring The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum as Lex Luthor's home.
Film still from Batman Vs. Superman featuring The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum as Lex Luthor's home.

Both the exterior and interior of the museum are featured in several scenes where Batman attempts to break through an encryption system within the house. The space feels dark and brooding, a testament to set designer Patrick Tatopoulos’ deft use of lighting and camera angle. In reality, the building is striking in form with a beautiful, diffused glow when lit naturally.

The structure houses over 2,000 works of contemporary and postwar artwork. 

Entrance to the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, Michigan.
Entrance to the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, Michigan.

Architectural forms can help reinforce a film’s narrative and reiterate a character’s personality. No doubt the two creative genres will continue to inspire one another. What films have you seen where architecture played a prominent role? 

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