NYU Bobst Library Renovation / Joel Sanders Architect

©

As reported by David W Dunlap for the NYTimes, the safety-restoration applied to Philip Johnson and Richard Foster’s Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on the NYU campus near Washington Square is close to completion.   While the library, which was constructed in the early 1970s, remains intact, the tremendous atrium space – a soaring 150 ft void – is proving to be more of a safety hazard than the magnificent architectural experience the architects intended.  Since 2003, the library has been marred by claiming the lives of three students who leaped to their deaths (even after the university installed 8ft polycarbonate barriers).   Charged with the task of eliminating the possibility for such a future occurrence, Joel Sanders Architect responded with a perforated alumium screen that completely walls off the atrium from the library’s levels.

More after the break.  

 

© NYU

Conceptualized as a random pixel design to compliment the building’s minimalistic aesthetic, the matte bronze 20-ft tall panels eliminate the vast panoramic views across the library and instead compartmentalize views into “scattered fragments“.  The screen, in no way an “inconspicuous barrier”, completely alters the sense of space within the library.  Dunlap explained, “They can — in the right light — look as gauzy as theatrical scrims.”

© David W. Dunlap/The Times

Yet, nothing can take from the initial effect of walking into Bobst at the ground level, ““You really don’t lose the visual qualities of the original atrium.  This is almost like a beautiful piece of lace that’s been stretched taut against the balcony slabs,” explained Andrew T. Repoli, a director of construction management at NYU.

© David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

The new intervention adheres to NYU requests of transparency and permeability, and, according to spokesman John Beckman, the panels “Present an opportunity to enhance the quality, character and identity of this important NYU institution.”

© NYU

Working with SHoP Construction Services, the 280+ panels were digitally fabricated from 39 different patterns modeled in Catia.

© David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

Currently, the renovation is still underway, but as NYU students return for the semester in a few weeks, the library will be sure to play host to an entirety of critics.  It will be interesting to see the opinions unfold, especially since the screens are purely intended to save lives.  Based upon such a sensitive issue, will the screens still warrant the same kind of architectural criticism?

What do you think of the new screens? Let us know in the comments below.

© Flickr user loop_oh

 

 

 

 

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "NYU Bobst Library Renovation / Joel Sanders Architect" 24 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 17 Apr 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=266657>

8 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    such a weird request. So, now students can jump from the roof top?

    I don’t get in which way does this actually solve the problem. Very pragmatic, one must say.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      Suicides are usually an act out of recklessness. By doing this, it reduces the possibility of suicide. Countries with high suicide rate has already proved this point.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    If someone is suicidal, they will find a way. We shouldn’t be destroying great architecture in the name of protecting idiots from themselves.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    “Based upon such a sensitive issue, will the screens still warrant the same kind of architectural criticism?”

    Architectural criticism? I didn’t even get to really looking or caring about the aesthetic quality of the screens… I was too distracted by the insulting notion that putting up a screen is the University’s solution for suicide prevention.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    “Based upon such a sensitive issue, will the screens still warrant the same kind of architectural criticism?”

    Architectural criticism? I didn’t notice or care about the aesthetic qualities of the design…I was too distracted by the notion that installing screens over the atrium was the University’s solution for suicide prevention. That’s not only insulting to people who are suffering from mental health issues but the money spent on the screens could have went towards getting help for students with these issues.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Whilst some additional psychologists on staff would be a good idea too, I think the screens are really beautiful, the atrium looks better now than it did before.

Share your thoughts