This is the twenty-fourth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Columbia University came to Mitchell | Giurgola for the renovation of their Knowledge Center after the New York-based firm previously renovated their Learning and Teaching Center in 2008. Originally housing the Columbia University Medical Center’s library, Jill Wendorff and Carl Gruswitz wanted to take the space in a different direction as compared to the classic definition of a “library.” Recognizing that a university’s collections consist of more than just books, Wendorff and Gruswitz rebranded the area as the Knowledge Center, a place where tech and data outlets abound. To that effect, Mitchell | Giurgola moved the majority of books offsite and opened up the area to make it much more collaborative. Wendorff wanted to create an open area while having different zones with different purposes. Different furniture items and carpet patterns help designate these different zones. In the spirit of creating a 21st-century study space, Wendorff wanted to add as many power outlets as possible. When it became clear that it wasn’t possible to add hundreds of new outlets on the floor, which would make it structurally unstable, Wendorff worked with Steelcase to create furniture with outlets built into them, thereby distributing the power outlets throughout the room without having to add power outlets to the floor. Wendorff wanted the space to be as flexible as possible, so she added movable whiteboards throughout the Knowledge Center; these added study tools and help block off sections of the space. While the majority of the space is very open, there are rooms around the perimeter that students and educators to use as classrooms, conferences rooms, or just to have a quiet work room. In creating the new conferences rooms, Mitchell | Guirgola pulled back portions of the wall to create a new corridor space, connecting the first floor Knowledge Center with the Teaching and Learning Centers on the lower levels. Mitchell | Giurgola renovated the lower levels in 2008, which at the time contained the Medical School’s library. Gruswitz wanted to shrink the collection as much as possible to add new classrooms and learning spaces. Much of the collection was moved offsite, while other materials were digitized as much as possible. For the materials that had to remain on site, Gruswitz employed the use of compact shelving to further compress the collection as much as possible. A total of seventeen classrooms were added to the lower levels of differing sizes. Much like the Knowledge Center on the first floor, the classrooms are able to be divided into different sizes, depending on need. Movable walls allow the larger classrooms to transform into two smaller classrooms, adding much needed space when needed. The classrooms follow the very collaborative method of learning featured throughout the site. They have large tables with computer connections that allow students to share images with other students also connected at the table. Additionally, large TV screens allow them to display the images for the entire class when needed. The classrooms extend out into the sidewalk, and as Gruswitz told us, the space originally had a large supporting column through the middle. This column had to be removed to accommodate the classroom, so Mitchell | Giurgola instead installed a large horizontal girder through the ceiling for structural support. We ended our tour in the student lounge, which had large windows installed during the 2008 renovation. This allows those in the Knowledge Center to peer down to the lounge. The added glass also helps to bring light into the subterranean space. During the renovation, a new entrance was installed by cutting a doorway in the façade. All in all, the renovation of the space helps to create a totally new collaborative environment for the entire Columbia Medical Center. Join us tomorrow as we venture to Hudson Yards! About the author: Jacob Fredi is the Public Programs and Exhibitions Coordinator at the Center for Architecture. When he’s not on Building of the Day tours, you can find him playing board games (Shadows Over Camelot!) and brewing his own beer.
Posts tagged with "Mitchell/Giurgola":
Archtober Building of the Day #23 NYU School of Professional Studies 7 East 12th Street Mitchell | Giurgola Architects, LLP A rainy day did not deter Archtober, and the hardy were amply rewarded with an up-to-the-minute view of an urban university hard at work. I want to change the name to “multi-versity” to capture the many different functions, schools, demographics, studies, and programs that the ever expanding universe of NYU now comprises. A recent addition is the newly renamed School of Professional Studies on 12th Street. Carol Loewenson and Stephen Dietz of Mitchell-Giurgola Architects, led the tour of the renovated Fairchild Printing Building. Projects like these—complex renovations where some operations must be maintained in place—require the steady, strong leadership of architects who find the puzzle of programmatic problem solving the bread and butter of successful practice. The entire facade was replaced, and a bit of fun was had in the slightly random placing of vertical aluminum shading fins with an occasional dichroic glass accent fin. Dietz said that the randomness reflected the variety of career paths that this particular branch of NYU caters to. A part of the whole university by day, by night, the building is filled with continuing education students—career changers, retoolers, and reinventers. The variety of programmatic areas accommodate both. Never think that spatial pragmatism leads only to dullness. A three-story stair in the lobby is enfronted by a shiny, mango-colored Venetian plaster core wall, and the terrazzo floor has bright cobalt speckles that jazz up the sturdy color scheme of indestructible surfaces. Every level has small puddles of space suitable for scattered gathering. Snippets of wood trim decorate the window sills, and much is made of the wood doors and frames. But where are the comfy old green leather sofas? My only quibble was one of character—all these open work areas and glass-walled conference rooms will seamlessly segue into the urban professional world of the workplace, but will they leave an indelible impression on the searching mind?
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture and Design Month NYC. She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell. After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson, held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater.
After rejecting two plans for the Museum of the American Revolution at Valley Forge, the American Revolution Center (ARC) made a land swap with the National Park Service to secure a prime location in Center City Philadelphia. In exchange for donating their 78-acre property at the Valley Forge site, the Park Service will give the museum nearly two-thirds of the space of the former National Park Visitors Center near Independence Mall on Third Street. ARC selected Robert A.M. Stern to design the $150 million building. Stern told ThePhiladelphia Inquirer he plans to use “the language of traditional Philadelphia architecture.” The 1970s era building designed by Cambridge Seven and its redbrick modernist bell tower holding the Bicentennial Bell, a gift to United States from Queen Elizabeth II, will be demolished, and critics worry the future of the bell itself is uncertain. ARC plans to demolish the northern section of the center as well as the bell tower. The complex remains one of the few vestiges of the national park's bicentennial architecture, with Mitchell/Giurgola's Liberty Bell Pavilion now long gone and Venturi Scott Brown's Ghost House facing a facelift. The old visitors center was never fully embraced, excepting the day of its commemoration when all the world watched as the monarch let bygones be bygones in the former rebel capitol. The bell was forged at Whitechapel Foundry in London, the same as the Liberty Bell, and it apparently works just as well. To be fair, it's the mechanism for the clapper that's out of order in the 1976 bell. The body of the bell remains solid. Its warm, low tone held a respectable sway over its stately neighbors for years, but all that will likely come to an end when the bell is moved. Independence National Historic Park spokesperson Jane Cowley told AN that the park is tentatively working on relocating the bell near the new museum at Dock Street, but it probably will not be hung from the rafters. It will be brought closer to the street-level for tourists to see rather than for the neighborhood to hear. "It's odd that one of the few remaining traces of the American Bicentennial celebrations is a bell that few visitors can see and none can hear and that was given by the country from which we fought for independence," one long time urban historian wrote in an email. The historian, who requested anonymity, also called into question status of the bell. "If it's an artifact accessioned by the Park Service, there's a huge number of formal protocols that have to be followed," wrote the historian. "If it's not, it will be hugely easy for the bell to become mysteriously lost in the shuffle." The Queen, for one, had very specific intentions for the bell. It was to be rung with the inauguration of a president and the coronation of the British monarch, thus the bell’s inscription “Let Freedom Ring.” For some reason the Park Service began ringing the bell at 11AM and 3PM, which led Park employees to quip, “Let Freedom Ring, at 11 and 3.” The tower and visitors center complex were one of the more subtle examples of late modernism in the Society Hill section of the city. The restored former slum is now what one pictures when imagining Philly's ubiquitous colonial charm. The tower's red brick planes somewhat obscure the bell, but pierced openings allow the sound to escape. Sidewalk access allows visitors to step beneath the bell to hear it ring--when it works. The old Park Service visitors center, along with much of the bicentennial architecture, brought a contemporary aesthetic to a national park commemorating forward-thinking forefathers. Nearby, dozens of discrete 1970s modernist interventions of quiet courtyards and low-slung row homes linked the 18th century to the 20th; one hopes that Stern's "language of traditional Philadelphia architecture" will speak as well to the twenty-first.