Low Plaza

Infrastructure Upgrades Underway in Low Library, Some Offices Temporarily Relocated

By Lauren Marshall

Low Library was built in 1897 as the centerpiece for Columbia's Morningside campus.

A two-year, $14.5 million renovation project currently underway at Low Library is bringing upgrades to the infrastructure of Columbia's century-old signature building. In the coming weeks a number of administrative offices on the west side of the building will be temporarily relocated to allow for further infrastructure renovations. (Relocating departments and dates of these moves are below.)

The project, which began last year, is the first of a multi-phase renovation designed by Helpern Architects. First phase improvements include electrical, telecommunications and fire safety systems upgrades, improvements in ventilation, minor roof and window repairs and installation of new central heating and cooling systems. The scope of future phases will be determined in the next capital construction and renovation plan to begin in 2005.

A view of one of the great windows to undergo repairs in Low.

"This phase of the renovation will replace the antiquated heating, cooling, electrical, telecommunications and fire safety, which require investment to bring a building constructed in the 1890s up to 21st-Century infrastructure standards," said Mark Burstein, vice president for facilities management. "The most noticeable improvement from the user's perspective will be fewer temperature fluctuations due to more accurate heating and cooling controls combined with tightening of the building's masonry and a refurbishment of it's windows."

Low Library, built in 1897 as the centerpiece for Columbia's new Morningside campus, was made possible by a $1 million gift from then-President Seth Low. The building held the bulk of the University's volumes until Butler Library was constructed in 1934 to the south. Low Library remains the home of Columbiana, the University's archives, in addition to administrative departments and the Visitor's Center.

Over the past 15 years, Columbia has invested more than $170 million to upgrade the infrastructure and improve usability of academic buildings designed by McKim, Mead and White, the distinguished architecture firm responsible for the planning and design of Columbia's historic Morningside campus, including Low Library.

This year renovation projects are underway in five other McKim, Mead and White buildings, including infrastructure improvements in Avery Hall and Journalism and office renovations in Pupin Hall. Ongoing projects include the redesign of classroom and office space in Hamilton Hall, and Butler Library's $70 million renovation and restoration, which is expected to be complete in 2006.

Relocated offices will retain the same intercampus mail codes and phone numbers. Temporary directories will be posted with building directories.

Low Office Relocations:

  • March 11
    Office of Affirmative Action, Low, room 402 to Hogan Hall, "B" level;
    The Earth Institute, Low, room 405 to Hogan Hall, "B" level;
    The Office of Administrative Planning, Low, room 410 to Low Library, room 407;
  • March 18
    The Office of Federal and Government and Community Relations, Low, room 301 to Hogan 100 level;
    The Office of Public Affairs, Low, room 304 to Hogan 100 level;
  • March 25
    General Counsel, room 110 and 110D to Low Library, room 409;
    General Counsel, room 102 to Low Library, room 409, 410, 110 and 110 D;
    The Office of the Vice President for Arts and Sciences, room 105 to Low Library, room 408 A, 309 H;
  • June:
    The Office of the President, room 201, 202 to Low Library, second floor Faculty Room;
    The Office of the Provost, room 205 to Low Library Room 308.

Published: Mar 14, 2002
Last modified:Sep 18, 2002

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