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Library renovation turns a creative page

Jez Abbott
04 Feb 2019

A library that forms a signature feature of a school’s picturesque campus in the Bronx has just been renovated.

Ethical Cultural Fieldston School (ECFS) in New Jersey recently cut the ribbon to the newly renovated Tate Library at its Riverdale campus.

The library has been updated by New York City-based Architecture Research Office (ARO) to better meet the needs of contemporary students and bring the library into the 21st century.

Tate Library has been transformed with a spacious, open layout capable of providing greater access to books, information, and technology, enabling multiple methods of teaching and learning.

Built in 1970, the library has served ECFS as a center for learning and a repository for information for close to half a century.

Its new layout places offices and support spaces around the perimeter, creating a flexible central space with bookstacks, group work areas, and places for individual study.

Custom glass fiber-reinforced gypsum (GFRG) ceilings are a key element of the acoustic strategy and incorporate new LED lighting.

Careful zoning of activities combined with extensive sound absorption fosters an environment conducive to both individual and collaborative work throughout the library.

Strategic placement of bookshelves and other furniture in the central commons strengthens visual connections, improves both the quantity and quality of daylight, and provides generous views of the surrounding wooded campus.

“The library, integrating some 50,000 books with a variety of spaces for teaching and learning, is a platform for the entire campus,” said Adam Yarinsky, principal of Architecture Research Office. “

Sarah Danzig Simon, ECFS’s assistant head, said: “ARO was instrumental in helping ECFS realize our dreams for the new Tate Library.

“The team was hands-on every step of the way; their design philosophy aligns with our educational pedagogy, which made this an optimal partnership.” 

Kim Yao, principal of Architecture Research Office, added: “The new Tate Library highlights ECFS’ physical collection, while recognizing that the library is an evolving model.”

Ethical Culture Fieldston School is an independent school that has been serving students from New York City and the surrounding suburbs since 1878.

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