An approach combining legible, contemporary additions with invisible interventions in a traditional vocabulary is illustrated by our adaptive reuse of Fordham’s 1926 Duane Library. The campus landmark had lost most of its original interiors to the inexorable expansion of library requirements. Following the completion of a new university library in 1995 Duane sat in the middle of Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, locked, and obsolete.
Selective removals were the key to the building’s rebirth as the university Visitors’ Center. We eliminated a granite entrance porch and relocated the front door from the second floor to grade, making the building accessible and recapturing the ground floor for program space. Our new front door and entry plaza extend Emile G. Perrot’s neo-gothic idiom, while two new glass and zinc stair towers stand in sharp contrast. The balance of the exterior was scrupulously restored and landscaped.
Oak paneling, rood screens, light fixtures, and library chairs complete the interior plan, recalling original fittings but designed with new details and arranged in new configurations. The contemporary geometry of our new main stair animates the interior architecture, while the staircase itself is clad in white marble slabs salvaged from Duane’s 1926 stacks. Full infrastructure replacement enables the 26,000 sq. ft. building to serve an ambitious mixed-use program.