Renovations Provide Student-Focused Academic Study Experience
The Mendel Gottesman Library, Yeshiva University’s research center and student hub on the Wilf Campus, recently underwent the first major restoration in its history. The renovations, made possible through a generous donation from David S. Gottesman, former chairman of the YU Board of Trustees, and his wife, Ruth, have transformed the space.
Designed with a focus on student needs, the renovated library includes expanded seating areas and workspaces, nine additional group study rooms, larger bathrooms with handicapped-accessible features, a women’s rest room on each level, digital infrastructure upgrades, as well as ergonomic chairs and modern furniture. Much of the building’s brick façade was replaced with large floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing natural light to pour into reading spaces.
“I am very impressed by the success of the design and I take great pleasure in seeing students using the spaces as they were intended to be used,” said Paul Glassman, who was appointed director of University Libraries as the renovation neared its completion. “The architect, Ran Oron, fully capitalized on the essential strengths of the original design, but increased transparency, brightening the space and increasing illumination. The result suggests an academic library for the 21st century.”
Glassman credited former Dean of Libraries Pearl Berger for “the overarching vision of the renovation” and Robert Salpeter, the University’s director of planning, design and construction, for “lending his valuable expertise to this project.”
Describing the new layout, Glassman said: “Floors two and three now represent a dynamic, collaborative, social space. The new design incorporates an information commons model, offering collaborative spaces for peer-to-peer learning and research assistance, individual study spaces, computer work stations, and group study rooms—all supported by a new, high-speed Wi-Fi network. The fourth floor, with twice the seating capacity, remains the preserve of quiet study and contains new carrels, each with electrical power for laptops and mobile devices.”
Carpet squares throughout the library add bursts of color, and the sweeping curves of the rounded lounge furniture create an appealing visual flow and comfortable environment. A bright wall mural, painted by artist Connie Rose, follows the path of stairs leading up to the library and adds additional color and vibrancy to the space.
“Watching the mural emerge was a very exciting process,” said Glassman. “It visually draws you up the cascading stairway and gives the library the expressive entrance experience it needed.”
“The mural’s message is positive and upbeat,” said Rose. “It depicts a bright colorful landscape emerging from the open pages of a book. The viewer becomes a participant of the piece as they journey up the staircase into a parallel universe. It is there to inspire the imagination and enlighten in the same way that books do.”
The Mendel Gottesman Library building contains the Mendel Gottesman Library of Hebraica-Judaica and the Pollack Library, YU’s general library collection.