Columbia University Joseph D. Jamail Lecture Hall, New York City

Designed by: LTL Architects
For client: Columbia University Floor area: 255.00 M² Year of completion: 2017
Nominated for: Best Use of Light

Ltl Columbia Jdj Lecture Hall 01 1739 01 A
© Michael Moran

About the project

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 level, 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 renovated ceiling is highly articulated - developed as a contour of performance, with custom panels that provide for lighting, mechanical systems, speakers, 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.

What’s unique about it

The project engages the need to creatively 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 kind of game board for new forms of collectivity and collaboration.

The custom ceiling deploys digital fabrication techniques to translate the historical architecture of the coffer into a complex functional surface, formed from recycled acoustical felt modules and shaped to incorporate all of the space's technical systems, from diffusers to a large scale cinematic projector. Designed to replace a generic flat hung ceiling installed during a previous renovation, the new ceiling is suspended using the previous ceiling’s substructure - negotiating economic, constructional and functional demands while creating a new architectural identity for this important public space within the University.

Ltl Columbia Jdj Lecture Hall 04 1739 02 A
© Michael Moran
Ltl Columbia Jdj Lecture Hall 05 1739 02 B
© Michael Moran
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© Michael Moran
Ltl Columbia Jdj Lecture Hall 14 1739 05 B
© Michael Moran
Ltl Columbia Jdj Lecture Hall 15 1739 05 C
© Michael Moran
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© Michael Moran
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© Michael Moran
Ltl Columbia Jdj Lecture Hall Combined 07 11 Square
© Michael Moran
Ltl Columbia Jdj Lecture Hall Rcpsection

Reflected Ceiling Plan and Section

Credits:
LTL Architects / Architect

Buro Happold / Lighting Design

Silman / Engineer

Loring Engineering / Engineer

The Sextant Group / Acoustics Consultant

Edu Tek Ltd. / Audiovisual Consultant

Faithful + Gould / Cost Estimator

J. Callahan Consulting, Inc. / Code Consultant

Central Consulting and Contracting / General Contractor

SITU / Ceiling Fabricator

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