RIT Photography is excited to share an update on our next renovation. The School is housed in the Frank E Gannett building and it was built in 1968. At the time, it had 151 darkrooms. Over the course of the last decade many of these darkrooms became dormant. Two summers ago, 20 darkrooms were renovated to become the Harris Gallery Annex which supports our MFA students. When this renovation is complete, RIT Photography will have still 31 functioning darkrooms.

On the second floor of the Gannett building was the S series. S stood for sensitometry and these 20 darkrooms were used for support classes in the original Photographic Sciences program which eventually became the Center for Imaging Science in 1980. The S series darkrooms were later used by the imaging and photographic technology program for a second year class in sensitometry. This class was last taught in 2009. As the School changed, 8 of the 20 darkrooms were used by MFA students for many years but as digital technology further migrated into our curriculum, less and less MFA students used these darkrooms. After numerous faculty discussions, it was decided to demolish the space and create a seminar type classroom, storage facilities, and a twenty-five seat computer lab to support the increased demand for our 4D class which now runs 4 sections.

Students in the Photographic Technology class of the 1950’s learn about densitometers.

A massive sensitometer was part of the Photographic Technology class
There were darkrooms for print quality study.

There were beautiful 12 foot stainless steel sinks in each of the 20 darkrooms with Pyrex glass drain pipes.

This is the layout of the S series darkrooms

This sign shares one of the many messages about darkroom protocols. It was produced by Henry Sack in 1980. As 3rd year student, Henry made that ‘Recycle Hypo’ poster and had them plastered all over the hallways and darkrooms (and especially near the Chem Lab). The water pipes in that building at the time were lined with silver and probably worth a mint! After seeing the post, Henry shared the happy memories when seeing that poster and shared life was simple when all we had to worry about was not wasting some chemicals. He is currently employed at Thomson Reuters. At the time, nearly 200 gallons of paper and film developer was used weekly by students and faculty in the School.

The doors were the first to come downdrawers_IMG_3433
and then the cabinets and counter tops
Asbestos abatement began Wednesday June 15, 2015
Below is the plans for the new space. We are very excited and will share updates as things proceed.