Libraries are supposed to be places for quiet contemplation and study but unfortunately at NYU, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library has also been the scene of several grisly suicides. As a way to prevent these tragedies and other accidents, the school enlisted Joel Sanders Architects to create a new safety screen to cover the openings of the library's atriums, and the result is as beautiful as it is utilitarian. The golden screens are crafted from custom-made aluminum sheets which have been digitally-punched with perforations that allow daylight to filter through the space while protecting students.
The glistening design solution replaces the previously not-so-attractive Plexiglas screens, which were installed back in 2003 as a temporary measure. The porosity of the aluminum sheet satisfies the need for safety whilst allowing light, views and activity to filter through to the study spaces. And its benefits don’t end there; the solution also ensures that the HVAC solutions need not be replaced. NYU spokesman John Beckman told Inhabitat that “the installation of aluminum screens will not only enhance safety, but also be consistent with the ongoing improvements in the library and be respectful of architect Philip Johnson’s original design.”
Joel Sanders ensured other stylistic detailing would meet with Philip Johnson’s approval; the pattern for the screens was inspired by the decorative grillwork used by Johnson and his peers in other atrium environments and the golden color was chosen to match the existing railings.
Incorporating 21th century digital mechanisms into the design and manufacture of these screens is a positive step, but since the view from the atrium is so engaging, let’s hope it inspires rather than distracts our young scholars!
Images courtesy of NYU.