Avery Library's New Front Doors


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As our summer visitors know, the doors providing a main entrance to Avery Library inside Avery Hall were replaced during June and July. The original wooden doors designed by McKim, Mead & White for the 1912 building were exchanged for a new, fire-rated entrance in light of an increased level of occupancy throughout the building. The project also allowed us to improve access for wheelchair users. The original doors and their transom were carefully removed and are being preserved as historic items.

The door replacement forms the final part of phase 1 of Avery Library's ambitious renovation program. Phase 1 was in all other respects completed in 2003 and included the renovation of the original entrance level reading room (now re-named the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Reading Room) and the creation one floor below of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Study Center for Art and Architecture. Subject to a successful fundraising effort, phase 2 will address the renovation of Avery's 1970s underground extension.

The main challenge in designing the new doors was to provide both fire rating and an appropriately welcoming and harmonious entrance to one of the campus's great interior spaces. Platt, Byard, Dovell and White were selected as architects.

The result is an entrance of patinated dark bronze doors, transom and frames with large transparent glass panels. Each leaf weighs over 400 pounds and a power assist is provided for the active leaf. Due to the special requirements of the project, the doors were manufactured in California and the finish was applied by Tallis Art Foundry in Beacon, NY. Installation was by Craftsman Storefronts & Glass of Long Island working for Caldwell & Walsh Building Construction under the supervision of Columbia's Project Manager Michael Lenihan.
Lettering and frames for library notices will be applied to the new doors in the near future. There are still a variety of minor tasks to be performed before installation is complete, and the overall functionality of the new entrance will be monitored well into the Fall semester. In the meantime, I thank our summer patrons for their patience during construction work.

An architectural project in the lobby of Avery Hall is likely to receive more informed opinions per square foot than almost anywhere else in New York. I accordingly invite all friends and patrons of Avery Library to send me their comments about the new doors by e-mail.

Gerald Beasley
Director, Avery Library
August 2007