Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism • Redefining an existing campus is difficult at the best of times, but more so when, as in the case of Barnard College, the framework dates back to the 19th century and had been expanded with an ad hoc assemblage of buildings and architectural styles. But the Diana Center has managed to both redefine and become the heart of this small women’s college next to Columbia University. The transformation earned a “thumbs-up” from juror Donna Robertson.

The architects removed a Brutalist building on the northeast corner of the campus that cut it off from the bustle of Broadway. The new building gives the campus a revived street presence; its trapezoidal floor plan allows space on the site for an expanded quad and restores a visual and pedestrian axis to the college’s original brick building, which had been blocked from view.

The Diana Center itself is a six-story building clad in integrally colored insulating glass panels with varying degrees of opacity. In an homage to the campus’ brick-and-terra-cotta vocabulary, the design team worked with manufacturers to create a copper-colored effect, achieved with light boxes (colored glass in front of painted metal) and ceramic frit on vision glass panels. The final effect won over juror Yolande Daniels, who “thought the orange was a really nice way of relating to the brick without quoting it.”

Inside, a series of slipped atria house a café, dining area, library, and gallery, all while allowing light to penetrate the building. A theater, performance hall, classrooms, studios, and offices complete the program. Interstitial spaces (such as nooks created by the projecting fire stair on the west façade) were outfitted with furnishings only after the building had opened, to allow time to see how students would use the space. Juror Scott Kilbourn thought the project was “very strong,” and John Cary agreed. “I want to go visit it,” he said.

Project Credits

The Diana Center, New York
Client Barnard College—Lisa Gamsu (vice president for administration/project manager)
Owner’s Representatives Roland L. Ferrera, Patrick Muldoon
Architect and Interior Designer Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, New York—Michael A. Manfredi, Marion Weiss (design partners); Mike Harshman (project manager); Clifton Balch, Kian Goh, Kim Nun, Yehre Suh (Project Architects); Michael Blasberg, Beth Eckels, Hamilton Hadden, Patrick Hazari, Todd Hoehn, Bryan Kelley, Justin Kwok, Lee Lim, Nick Shipes, Michael Steiner (Design Team); Patrick Armacost, Jason Ro, Yehre Suh, Tae-Young Yoon (Pre-Design Team)
M/E/P/FP/Vertical Transportation Engineering Consultant Jaros, Baum & Bolles
Structural Engineer Severud Associates
Civil Engineer Langan Engineering & Environmental Services
Curtain-Wall Consultant R.A. Heintges & Associates
Lighting Designer Brandston Partnership
Landscape Architecture Consultants HM White Site Architects
A/V/IT/General Acoustics/Security Consultants Cerami & Associates; TM Technology Partners
Food Service Consultant Ricca Newmark Design
Retail Consultant Jeanne Giordano
Cost Estimator AMIS
Sustainability Consultant Viridian Energy & Environmental
Theater Consultant Fisher Dachs Associates
Theater Acoustic Consultant Jaffe|Holden
Size 98,000 square feet
Cost $570 per square foot
Photography ©Albert Vecerka/Esto