‘Archive 81′ follows the surreal parallel stories of Dan Turner, an archivist who gets drawn into the seemingly supernatural tapes he is tasked with restoring, and Melody Pendras, the grad student who films the very tapes over two decades previously. At the center of the dark, haunting series is the Visser building, a rambling monolithic structure that houses a myriad of strange tenants that Melody interviews on tape.
The young filmmaker seemingly dies when the building burns down, and it is strongly hinted that the house that occupied the spot before the Visser building also mysteriously burnt down. The found-footage style narrative got us curious to track down the real Visser building, and here’s what we discovered! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is Archive 81’s Visser Building Real?
It may come as a relief to some to learn that the Visser building is not real. The massive building that Melody moves into as part of her research for an oral history project is depicted as an ominous place full of strange, questionable tenants. In the show’s opening episode, it is revealed that the tapes that Dan is meant to be restoring are from the Visser building and were severely damaged when the building burnt down in an inexplicable fire.
As the show progresses and Melody delves deeper into her surreal surroundings, the building becomes a key location of the narrative. With each new tenant that is introduced, the mystery becomes more confounding. There are strange sounds that emanate from the vents, and Melody even discovers a ritualistic gathering in the basement. In fact, what makes the Visser building intriguing is not its exterior, which the young grad student describes as resembling that of hundreds of other buildings in the city, but what goes on inside.
Thus, the Visser building doesn’t actually exist in reality, and the location depicted in the series is fictional. It provides a detailed, ominous setting for the narrative and its relatively generic exterior gives the story a tinge of real-life authenticity. Conversely, the interior of the building, which often features endless corridors and a particularly ominous sixth floor, forms much of the show’s intrigue.
Interestingly, the Visser building as described in the podcast from which the Netflix series is inspired seems to have some surreal aspects to it. Due to the supernatural entity that inhabits the structure, its architecture is described as continuously shifting. The podcast also claims that the Visser building has 21 stories but looks taller.
Where is the Visser Building Located?
Since the Visser building is a fictional setting, a few different locations are seemingly used to depict the pivotal location. The structure is described as a run-down New York apartment building, and Melody mentions that it looks like hundreds of other old New York buildings. Interestingly, the exterior of the Visser building is actually depicted using a property called First Avenue Lofts, located at 436 First Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.
The detailed interior of the Visser building is seemingly brought to life using elaborate sets constructed on soundstages. Other key locations of the narrative, like the interior of the remote research facility where Dan Turner spends most of his time restoring and watching Melody’s tapes, are also presented using sets built on soundstages in Marshall Township and Warrendale in Pennsylvania.