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 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.
The project engages the need to imaginatively transform historic facilities to accommodate contemporary educational requirements, creating a space that both acknowledges and reinvents it’s 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 spaces 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 Architects is a design intensive architecture firm founded in 1997 by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki and David J. Lewis, located in New York City. The firm engages a diverse range of work, from large scale academic and cultural buildings to interiors and speculative research projects, and realizes inventive solutions that turn the very constraints of each project into the design trajectory, exploring opportunistic overlaps between space, program, form, budget and materials.