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A new home for old films

Construction underway for new UCLA archive facility

Posted: April 2, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 2, 2012 1:55 a.m.
A pair of construction cranes stand against an overcast sky as seen from the University Center at College of the Canyons’ Valencia campus recently. The cranes are on the site of a future storage facility for the University of California, Los Angeles film and television archive, situated between COC and the California Institute of the Arts. A pair of construction cranes stand against an overcast sky as seen from the University Center at College of the Canyons’ Valencia campus recently. The cranes are on the site of a future storage facility for the University of California, Los Angeles film and television archive, situated between COC and the California Institute of the Arts.
A pair of construction cranes stand against an overcast sky as seen from the University Center at College of the Canyons’ Valencia campus recently. The cranes are on the site of a future storage facility for the University of California, Los Angeles film and television archive, situated between COC and the California Institute of the Arts.
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The two gigantic construction cranes visible from Interstate 5 and the McBean Parkway off ramp are building a storage facility to house the University of California, Los Angeles film and television archive.

“We are the second largest moving-image archive in the United States,” said Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA film and television archive. “The Library of Congress is the largest.”

The UCLA film and television archive is currently storing 90 million feet of nitrate film in 120 underground vaults off McBean Parkway between College of the Canyons and the California Institute of the Arts.

“The downside of nitrate (film) is it’s highly flammable,” said Horak, adding that each vault holding the pre-1950 film material is spaced apart to prevent any potential fires from spreading.

Each underground vault is 6 to 8 feet wide and 15 to 20 feet long, Horak said.

The new facility being built will house analog and digital films and television shows, along with laboratories, film-preservation areas, and office spaces, Horak said. Part of the new construction includes a 20,000- to 30,000-square-foot building, Horak said.

“It’s a huge facility,” Horak said. “The builders moved something like 500 tons of dirt.”

The UCLA film and television archive holds 350,000 films and television shows, Horak said.

Some of the archive will still be housed at the UCLA campus after the new storage facility is built, Horak said.

David Packard of the Packard Humanities Institute is financing the construction, Horak said. Packard also built the existing nitrate vaults on the McBean Parkway site and later transferred them to UCLA, Horak said.

UCLA was part of the design process for the new facility, and the two organizations are finalizing a partnership contract, Horak said.

The film archive facility might open a public movie theater in the future, but for now the archive is not open to the public, Horak said.

The Packard Humanities Institute could not be reached for comment for this story.

Construction for the film archive should be complete by the end of 2013, Horak said.

Construction crews have already finished pouring the archive’s foundation, according to Jason Crawford, economic development manager for the city of Santa Clarita.

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