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Spring 2001


Labor of Love for a Chapel of Learning in the Bronx

 

 

fter decades of darkness, dankness, desolation, and dripping water not to mention the incendiary attack of Vietnam War protestors the auditorium of Gould Memorial Library on the Bronx Community College campus has just been restored to its former glory.

Gould Memorial Library

The spectacular space was originally designed by Stanford White in 1900 to serve as a chapel, but will now feature meetings and events for both the College and the local community.

Particularly unlikely to be missed were windows that, during a prior renovation, had been filled in with concrete and a wall that had cut off the tops of Goulds columns and concealed its balcony.

Gould Memorial Library

Lest there be any doubt that the rejuvenation of the spectacular space was a labor of love, here is a succinct panegyric from the firm Platt Byard Dovell Architects, which accomplished the project: Proposed by White for New York University,clearly as a competitor for Charles McKims Law Library at Columbia University, the Gould Library, possibly the most powerfully sensuous formal interior of its time, put the round chapel directly below the reading room, bringing natural light into the chapel all the way from the top of the Librarys dome through a central glass-floored Librarians desk area. With the aid of the sharp slope of the site, the subterranean chapel used windows and abundant natural light to layer and enlarge its strong, embracing circular form.