Winner, Interactive 2013

A Short History of the Highrise

The New York Times, The National Film Board of Canada

An ingeniously constructed interactive documentary, A Short History of the Highrise allows website visitors to tour 2,500 years of “vertical living,” from the Tower of Babel to turn-of-the-20th Century New York City tenements to luxury skyscrapers in modern Shanghai. An Op-Docs production of The New York Times, the website is also part of the Film Board of Canada’s ongoing highrise project. Writer-director Katernia Cizek mined the Times’ vast morgue of photographs for images, supplementing those vintage child’s pop-up book. Tall buildings sprout like mushrooms on urban landscape or collapse like accordions to reveal ancient ruins. They’re used in three short, narrated films, labeled Mud, Concrete and Glass, to track distinct epochs in construction. Site visitors can opt at any point to stop the action and dig deeper for more photos, footage and footnotes. A fourth feature Home, is composed of photos submitted by the public and grouped by themes –- fog, children, views, dusk, dawn –- and annotated with the photographers’ commentary. For chronicling the ups and downs of multistory living in clever, storybook fashion, A Short History of the Highrise receives a Peabody Award.


Executive Producer: Jason Spingarn-Koff. Executive Producer for the NFB: Silva Basmajian. Producer: Gerry Flahive.
Director: Katerina Cizek. Writer: Katerina Cizek.
Narrators: Feist, Katerina Cizek, Cold Specks. Animators: Helios Design Labs. Interactive Art Direction and Development: Jacky Myint. Coordinating Producer: Kathleen Lingo. Social Media Editors: Alexis Mainland, Deborah Acosta. Photo Archivist: Jeff Roth. Researchers: Lindsay Crouse, Elizabeth Klink, Jivan Nagra. Music: Jim Guthrie. Sound Design: Janine White.