AIANY Building Tour: The Diana Center at Barnard College

Event: AIANY Building Tour: The Diana Center at Barnard College
Location: Barnard College, 08.04.11
Tour Leader: Michael Harshman, AIA — Project Manager, Weiss/Manfredi
Organizer: AIANY Architectural Tourism Committee

In the words of tour guide Michael Harshman, AIA, project manager for the Weiss/Manfredi-designed Diana Center at Barnard College, this 98,000-square-foot, multi-use building establishes an innovative nexus for artistic, social, and intellectual life at the college, bringing together spaces for art, architecture, theater, and art history, as well as faculty offices, a dining room, and a café. In doing so, the Diana Center brings together the college’s previously dispersed programs and constituencies by setting up visual juxtapositions that invite collaboration among disciplines.

© Thomas H. Kieren

Carving a diagonal void through the building, the ascending double-height glass atria establish continuous sightlines through the gallery, reading room, dining room, and café. A 500-seat multipurpose events space and a 100-seat black-box theater that host lectures, special events, and theatrical productions anchor the lower levels.

© Thomas H. Kieren

According to Harshman, “The center translates the static opacity of masonry into a contemporary luminous and energy-efficient curtain wall.” More than 1,000 panels of varying widths calibrate gradients of color, opacity, and transparency to the Diana Center, allowing views into the building’s public functions and limiting visibility where privacy is needed.

© Thomas H. Kieren

Sustainability is integral to the design and supports the college’s effort to teach and practice environmental principles. The green roof offers a 2,800-square-foot ecological learning center for Barnard’s biology and environmental science students, as well as valuable new social space. The building also maximizes daylight and views and incorporates operable windows, radiant flooring, and recycled materials. Included are occupancy sensors, automated shading, and high-performance MEP systems.

© Thomas H. Kieren