Architects from the Chicago-based firm in charge of renovations at Cross Campus Library spoke at a Yale College Council-sponsored forum Wednesday about the furnishings and interior design that will be installed before the library reopens in August 2007.
During an hour-long presentation in Sterling Memorial Library, Aric Lasher, an architect from Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge, showed students slides of the furniture sets the firm has picked out for CCL’s various study areas and provided an overview of the renovated library’s layout. Lasher said the architects tried to choose furnishings that would both complement and contrast with the Gothic style of some parts of the library complex.
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The tables and chairs slated to be placed in the library’s new cafe are light, airy pieces designed in the mid-20th century and are meant to act “in counterpoint” to the architecture of the building, Lasher said.
“It’s supposed to be a cheerful social space,” he said. “We’re aiming for a material richness that will be appropriate and will exist within a space that already has a lot going on. You don’t want anything too heavy there.”
Associate University Librarian Danuta Nitecki said library staff will put sample pieces of the new furniture on display in the Sterling nave in order to solicit student feedback.
The new cafe — which will be run by Yale Dining Services and feature some Yale Sustainable Food Project fare — will seat up to 85 students, Nitecki said. No final decisions about the cafe’s menu have been made yet, she said.
“The cafe is not intended to be a restaurant,” she said. “Most of the food will be prepared outside and brought in … The primary function is to provide a more comfortable and social study lounge.”
Nitecki said students will be able to charge food at the cafe to their bursar accounts.
The furniture in CCL’s two courtyards, which straddle Cross Campus, will also be lightweight and portable, Lasher said, but furnishings inside the reading rooms and individual study areas will be more appropriate to the architectural style.
“Once within the library, the vocabulary of the furnishings changes somewhat,” Lasher said. “We’ve looked at the furnishings to be more sympathetic to, rather than contradictory to, the architecture … They have a weight and bearing suitable to the building.”
Lasher said some of the desks, chairs and study carrels that his firm has designed for CCL’s main reading spaces are modeled on pieces in several of SML’s most popular reading rooms, including the Linonia and Brothers room. The carrels will all provide Internet and power plugs, he said.
In addition to large reading areas, the renovated library will feature rooms in the north and south wings that are intended to be group study spaces, as well as classrooms with computers and interactive educational technology, Lasher said.
Richard Vollaro, the project manager for CCL, said the renovations are on schedule and within budget. Workers are currently placing roofing, constructing brick and stone supports, and installing mechanical systems on the lower level, he said.
“We haven’t encountered anything really unusual at this point,” Vollaro said. “A few field conditions have popped up, but nothing that we couldn’t anticipate. We’re where we want to be.”
While some students said the forum was informative and helpful in answering students’ questions, others said they think the architects and library staff were not as receptive to student suggestions as they could have been.
YCC Secretary Zach Marks ’09 said he found Lasher’s presentation exciting, and he appreciated the opportunity to see what a popular campus study area will look like when it reopens. But he said student comments were not given the reception he had hoped for.
“I think it was very kind of them to meet with us, but I really think it’s crucial that they reach out and actually ask for our opinions,” Marks said. “They should take student input and not just have forums like this as a way of getting students off their backs and then making decisions on their own.”