For this important lecture space in McKim, Mead and White's historic Pulitzer Hall at Columbia University's School of Journalism, the design was intentionally developed to have a dual personality. To accommodate the broad range of functions required, from lectures to classes to film screenings, the plan is open to multiple configurations via a series of mobile furniture components, including a transformable stage and a moving storage wall. At ground, the space is defined by a patterned dark wood floor that reflects traces of the room's original coffered ceiling and beam work. By contrast, the redesigned ceiling is highly articulated; developed as a contour of performance, with custom panels that provide for lighting, mechanical systems and acoustics. The shape of the ceiling is adjusted to allow for views to the monumental windows and extends to surface the mezzanine at the back of the space, referencing the form of classical coffers while adapting to contemporary requirements. The project engages the need to imaginatively transform historic facilities to accommodate contemporary educational requirements, creating a space that both acknowledges and reinvents its past. While the floor reflects the building’s original architecture and materiality, it also acts as a programmable surface for new forms of collectivity and collaboration.
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