News | Administration

Barnard taps architecture firm to design teaching and learning center in Lehman's place

  • DESIGN FUTURES | Barnard announced on Monday that it had hired architecture firm Skidmore, Ownings & Merrill LLP to design its teaching and learning facility to replace Lehman Library.

Nearly one year after announcing plans to demolish Lehman Hall, Barnard has contracted an architecture firm to build a teaching and learning facility in Lehman’s place.

On Monday afternoon, Barnard College Dean Avis Hinkson, BC ’84, TC ’87, sent an email to the student body announcing the selection of Skidmore, Ownings & Merrill LLP to lead the design of the building. The new facility will house a library, labs, classrooms, and a cafe, as well as new study, dining, and conference spaces. 

“We are thrilled to partner with SOM to develop this important new campus landmark,” Barnard President Debora Spar said in the email. “It was crucial to find a firm that would work well with our community throughout the design and construction process, and SOM is the perfect choice. Barnard has a small campus and each building plays a vital role in our community. I am confident that this new building will have a transformative impact on our campus and move with us squarely into the future.”

A steering committee with 24 members that included Barnard trustees, senior administrators, faculty, and students, selected SOM, one of the largest architecture, design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world, based on the firm’s history of creative and innovative architecture, its internal commitment to women’s leadership, and its proven track record on similar projects for academic institutions.

SOM is currently designing Cornell University’s new campus on Roosevelt Island and the 375,000 square foot multipurpose facility for The New School, located at 14th Street and 5th Avenue.

“We feel privileged to be working with Barnard on this project,” Roger Duffy, SOM’s partner in charge of design for the project, said in the email sent by Hinkson. “Through our design process and engagement with the community, we hope to capture the spirit of Barnard as an institution of higher learning and to create a building that both reflects that spirit and gives it space to thrive. We would like to thank the committee at Barnard that selected SOM, and look forward to collaborating with a diverse group of the Barnard community as we move forward with the design process.”

According to Hinkson, the building development process is still in the very early planning stages, but as the process continues, members of the Barnard community will meet in subcommittees to focus on the fundamental elements of the project as it moves to the design phase and beyond. 

emma.goss@columbiaspectator.com  |  @EmmaAudreyGoss

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CU_Alum posted on

The caption refers to Lehman Hall as "Lehman Library." Barnard's library, which is in Lehman Hall, is called Wollman. There is a Lehman library at Columbia, in the SIPA building. It's easy to conflate them.

Lehman Hall is dated, but it has its charms. SOM is known for decidedly un-charming buildings. (Frank Lloyd Wright called the name partners the "Three Blind Mies".) Most of those were built long ago. More recently, the firm has produced many excellent designs. The most noteworthy is probably the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. I hope the new building at Barnard will continue that trend.

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