Award of Merit: Interiors/Tenant Improvement

One-quarter-inch-thick perforated aluminum screens with a 70% Kynar gold metallic coating line the interior of the 150-ft atrium of New York University's Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. While the screens provide a dynamic presence, their primary function is safety.

Even after the installation of 8-ft polycarbonate barriers in 2003, the library has been the scene of three suicides since 2003. The designer was tasked with providing a suicide-prevention screen that fulfilled its primary duty and provided a presence for the atrium, which was originally designed by Philip Johnson in 1968.

The metal screens allow light to penetrate the interior but prevent access. They are installed on a custom aluminum tube and mullion that is fastened to each floor below the carpet. They are also fastened on a floating clip concealed in the plaster sofit.

The screens feature five patterns that repeat through each elevation and are designed to make it nearly impossible to pick up the pattern.

Best Projects judges thought it interesting that the panels designed for suicide prevention were part of the project's design concept.

Working within a tight three-month schedule, the team labored at night when the library was closed. They used the center of the atrium for staging and three hoists to raise materials up 135 ft above the atrium floor.

New York University - Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, New York

Key Players

Owner New York University

General Contractor Skanska USA and SHoP Construction

Lead Designer Joel Sanders Architect

Sheet Metal Installer MG McGrath

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