There are few places in this world where one can browse both the evolution of the feminist punk youth movement Riot Grrrl in the 90’s, the lives of North American volunteers in the Spanish Civil War and the beginnings of the American protest movement all in one location. The design reflects this unique—and often radical—nature of the Special Collections at NYU’s Bobst Library. Design inspiration comes directly from the collections’ content, the building’s location in downtown NYC and the strong architectural character of Bobst Library, which was designed by Philip Johnson in the early 70’s. The library occupies two floors of the eleven-story library, located on the SE corner of Washington Square Park. Within the second floor (front of house), multiple destinations are possible for researchers, students and staff. Researchers can move from the atrium, toward the Special Collections Reading Room through a glowing entry portal. They then pass through a central gallery and are greeted at a reception desk. They store their belongings in adjacent lockers then proceed to the secure reading room. Students can browse the gallery or walk along the balcony which rings the atrium to the eastern classrooms or the North Reading Room. Curatorial offices and staff workspaces occupy the western side of the atrium. The entire third floor (back of house) is designed to accommodate a compact material storage system. Its perimeter is encased in an environmental control layer to mediate fluctuations in humidity and temperature in this fifty-year-old building.


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