Barnard College – The Milstein Center

Barnard
Barnard
Barnard

The Milstein Center represents a completely new kind of library—one that serves as the heart of the campus, bringing students together across disciplines and broadening the notion of the library as more than just a place for quiet, independent study.

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2018
  • Design Finish Year 2016
  • Size Site Area: 4 acres Building Height: 192 feet Number of Stories: 11 Building Gross Area: 128,000 square feet
  • Awards
    2020, Learn by Design Finalist, South by Southwest 2019, Special Prize Exterior, Prix Versailles 2019, Finalist: Education Award, The Plan 2019, Library Building Award, AIA
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Silver, BD+C, Silver
  • Collaborators
    Turner Brightspot Strategy AECOM Quennell Rothschild & Partners Robert Silman Associates Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, Inc. Van Deusen & Associates (VDA) Brandston Partnership Cerami & Associates Lehrer Cumming Cini-Little International, Inc. Code Consultants, Inc. Lerch Bates Turner Construction Company WSP
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2018
  • Design Finish Year 2016
  • Size Site Area: 4 acres Building Height: 192 feet Number of Stories: 11 Building Gross Area: 128,000 square feet
  • Awards
    2020, Learn by Design Finalist, South by Southwest 2019, Special Prize Exterior, Prix Versailles 2019, Finalist: Education Award, The Plan 2019, Library Building Award, AIA
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Silver, BD+C, Silver
  • Collaborators
    Turner Brightspot Strategy AECOM Quennell Rothschild & Partners Robert Silman Associates Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, Inc. Van Deusen & Associates (VDA) Brandston Partnership Cerami & Associates Lehrer Cumming Cini-Little International, Inc. Code Consultants, Inc. Lerch Bates Turner Construction Company WSP

A vibrant place of exchange

The Cheryl and Philip Milstein Center for Teaching Learning puts forth a very different idea for the programming that a library can offer. It is a 21st-century vision: interdisciplinary workspaces for groups both large and small; co-location of faculty in economics, mathematics, history, and other liberal arts disciplines; new homes for the Athena Center for Leadership Studies and the Barnard Center for Research on Women; and a brand new technological suite of multimedia centers called the Digital Commons. Replacing the former Lehman Library at the center of campus, the building is the new hub of academic and intellectual life at Barnard College.

Barnard
© Magda Biernat

Scaling up, sensitively

Configuring the building’s massing in a way that would enhance the campus was one of the greatest challenges to resolve. While doubling the size of the previous building, the new library had to allow more sunlight to reach Lehman Lawn—the campus’ signature open space—than ever before. SOM designed the first five floors to rise in a series of terraces that create entirely new green spaces for the urban campus, with the top six floors designed as a narrow tower that corresponds to the scale of nearby buildings. At the fifth level, a skybridge connects to the adjacent Altschul Hall, and near the top, a cantilevered volume contains a faculty lounge with panoramic views that take in the Hudson River, the Columbia University campus, and Midtown Manhattan.

Barnard
© Magda Biernat

Harmony in Morningside Heights

Much like the massing, the material selections are sensitive to the campus context in Morningside Heights. The facade uses a rain screen system of patinated zinc panels. With a soft reflectivity and warmth, the zinc harmonizes with the surrounding brick, stone, and concrete buildings. At the same time, the metal facade expresses a contemporary aesthetic that distinguishes The Milstein Center as a building of its time.

Barnard
© Magda Biernat
Barnard
© Magda Biernat

New ideas in knowledge sharing

The Digital Commons transforms Barnard College’s technological capabilities. It is a place where students and faculty across disciplines can come together to work collaboratively to discover and create new ideas. The Movement Lab in the lower level, for example, brings together dance, computer science, and physics. One floor up, the Design Center features makerspaces for 3D printing, metalwork, and more. With spaces featuring tools for computational science, media, and other types of technology, the Digital Commons reimagines the possibilities for researching and learning at a campus library.

Sustainability and wellness

The Milstein Center is certified LEED Silver. The building is designed to save energy costs by 15 percent below ASHRAE 90.1 2007 standards, as well as 33 percent in water savings—half of which is reused for landscape irrigation. Natural light, programmed lighting scenes, and individual controls enhance learning environments while contributing to energy savings.

Barnard’s commitment to sustainability extends even further, with a focus on health and wellness. The daylighting and green terraces, for instance, contribute to both of these goals. Gracious interior pathways connect each program, and a series of communicating stairs weave through the building—bringing students and faculty to every space and experience in the building’s academic podium, and creating opportunities for chance encounters to reinforce a sense of community.

Barnard
© Magda Biernat