Columbia Library columns (v.44(1995))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.44,no.2(1995:Autumn): Page [13]  

Laying the  Cornerstone of the Mew aiumbia university (Library)

December 7, 1895


Any city that hopes to be famous, in the sense that Athens was
famous and is famous still, must crown its material success with an
intellectual life powerl'ul within its limits and beyond its borders.

Seth Low, 19001


^ong before President Seth Low
made his dramatic announcement in 1895 of his intent to donate the one mil¬
lion dollars required for a libraiy building on the "Morningside Acropolis,"- he
had made the building his own in private meetings, letters, and phone conver¬
sations with "his" architect, Charles Follen McKim. During the summer of 1894
the design took shape in an interchange between Columbia's first nonacadem-
ic president and America's champion of academic architecture. Together Low
and McKim designed a new libraiy that would be one of the most admired
buildings in American architecture for over a generation.'^ They also stamped
the future shape and image of the Universit)' for the next centun'. The corner¬
stone, laid on December 7, 1895, was more than the fii"st stone of a new library
building. It was a reinvention of the libraiy in the academic life of the Univei"sity,
the keystone of the new campus, and the capstone of Low's ambition to trans¬
form Columbia College into Columbia Universit)' in the Cit)' of New York.
  v.44,no.2(1995:Autumn): Page [13]