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Albert Ledner is focus of upcoming documentary film

December 11, 2016

Albert Ledner is best known in New York architecture circles for his two buildings in Greenwich Village for the National Maritime Union: the dormitory building that is now the Maritime and Dream hotels and the union headquarters building that is now a Lenox Hill Hospital facility. You know them—the hotel with the giant porthole windows and the saw-toothed white “ship” on 7th Avenue. That Ledner has been called “anything but conventional,” is only the start. This long understudied architect is finally getting some serious attention.

Designing Life – The Modernist Legacy of Albert C. Ledner is a documentary film that tells the story of his life and work.
Ledner’s singular design process and inspiration is explored in his prolific residential work in New Orleans—over 40 houses—and the iconic National Maritime Union buildings in New York City and across the country. One sees Ledner today at the age of 92 amidst his current projects and reflecting upon and examining the body of his life’s work. The film weaves together interviews with Ledner and his friends and associates, visiting the homes he designed, his daily life working and socializing in New Orleans and also in archival films and photographs.

Not only does the film vividly document the work of Ledner, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, and one of the American South’s first modern architects, it captures an important time in American architectural history’s development during the critical postwar period. Viewing the architectural and cultural shifts in history through the life of an influential Modernist architect is a rare and unique opportunity.

Intended not only for architecture aficionados, the film will appeal to those interested in the creative process, invisible design, and radical, outside-of-the-box thinking. A five-minute short premiered at the recent New Orleans Architecture and Design Film Festival this past August. The film is slated for release in 2017.

The trailer and more information about the film and Albert Ledner’s work is available on the filmmaker’s KickStarter Campaign page.

DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State is supporting this important work. Please consider doing the same. But you’ll have to act quickly, the KickStarter campaign ends DEC 14.

Interior, Ledner's first personal residence, New Orleans, c. 1962
Courtesy A. Ledner
The union building today, as Lenox Hill Greenwich Village. Photo © Christopher Cooper; courtesy Perkins Eastman Architects.