Vassar College, van ingen art library

Poughkeepsie, NY | 5,500 SF | 2009

The Van Ingen Art Library at Vassar College is an innovative work of late 1930s modern architecture, designed by one of the school’s educators, John McAndrew, who was also an architect. When Vassar engaged PBDW in 2005, the library had fallen into disuse on account of the dreariness of the unmaintained finishes, a changed pedagogy, and lack of technological infrastructure.

The re-design of the library required a comprehensive study of its historic elements and involved a detailed laboratory analysis to determine the original finishes. The color palette included thirteen different paint colors, with the main reading room and each of its four flanking study rooms painted with its own distinct and coordinated color scheme. Besides selecting new lighting and finishes to recreate the spirit of the original design, we reconfigured and modernized the study rooms to attract student users. An informal seating area and custom museum-quality display case in the main reading room were additions designed to encourage diverse uses. The entire library was technologically upgraded to support an increasingly computerized fine arts curriculum.