Maya Lin, best known for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, together with Shepley Bulfinch has been chosen to redesign Smith College's Neilson Library. Selected after an international search conducted by the school, Lin's interdisciplinary approach coupled with Shepley Bulfinch's extensive work with academic institutions ultimately brought them to the forefront. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and last two years.
With an eye for landscape architecture, the Neilson Library redesign presents Lin with an opportunity to revive the campus' prestigious history. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1893, the campus was formed around an expansive botanical garden. As buildings began to crop up, Neilson Library was given a scenic position within it, connecting two portions of campus and reaching out to nature. This was slowly lost through a series of additions, but the new redesign intends to restore the building to its former glory as Smith's centerpiece.
While previous alterations to Neilson Library sought to expand the exhibition space for Smith's impressive collections, the redesign takes the stance of a methodical plan for a "library of the future." Inspired by the college's global and interdisciplinary culture, the new design takes a flexible, multi-purpose approach to provide a niche for students in various fields and respond to the ever-changing needs of the school. In addition to housing books and digital platforms for students, the library will offer spaces for congregation and studying.
The first library renovation on Smith's campus since 1982, the Neilson Library redesign dates back to 2010 when Shepley Bulfinch was commissioned for a master plan of all the school's libraries. Since then, the design team has collaborated with the Library Architect Selection Committee and the Library Program Committee (both of which consist of faculty, students, and alumnae) to move forward with the plan. Next on the agenda, the architects, Program Committee, and community will work together to develop a comprehensive design for Neilson through a series of public forums and charettes.
Story via Smith College