Build it and they will come to the movies

Studio 360

Liz Diller is one of America’s foremost living architects. Her firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, has worked on high-profile projects like The Broad in Los Angeles, the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston and Lincoln Center in New York, as well as the popular High Line park. But 40 years ago, Diller was more interested in filmmaking than architecture.

“I had absolutely no interest in architecture,” recalls Diller. “I was painting and doing sculpture and photography, and then I became more and more interested in film. So I started to take some film courses, and in the back of my mind I would somehow ultimately be a filmmaker.”

Although Diller went on to build an illustrious career in architecture, she still considers herself a film buff at heart. So we asked her to tell us about some of her favorite architect’s movies — films that showcase architectures or employ an architectural understanding of space. 

  1. “Playtime” (1967), directed by Jacques Tati
    “Part of what I love about that movie is the use of glass. There are big chunks of this film that are about looking in, about voyeurism. And people are trying to communicate through glass, and they're not able to hear each other. There are all sorts of interesting reflections of places that are there or not there. I think it's a beautiful movie about glass.”
  2. “The Shining” (1980), directed by Stanley Kubrick
    “You don't know whether the child is seeing things. And this is the premise of ‘The Shining.’ The building actually has memories. It's a bit of a protagonist in the film.”
  3. “Her” (2013), directed by Spike Jonze
    “Spike is dealing with a very near future that is very similar to what we see today, but maybe there are some details that are off. And so it's the de-familiarization of the normal that I loved so much.”

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s upcoming projects include a remarkable arts center called The Shed, designed in collaboration with Rockwell Group and due to open in New York next spring, and a performance piece called "The Mile-Long Opera" to be performed on New York City's High Line in October.

The High Line, in New York City, as seen from above at night.

The High Line, in New York City, as seen from above at night.


Iwan Baan