Beloved Bobst, home to some, prison to others, received a facelift over the summer. My personal opinion is that the library was scary before (Elmer Holmes Bobst was a Nazi!) and it’s scary now. Only now there are crazy gold things hanging everywhere that are supposed to look like pixels. Maybe this will make us all better at Mario Kart.
According to the New York Times, the renovation, done by architect Joel Sanders, is intended to keep students safe following the three sobering suicides of the past decade. Metal screens, presumably painted gold (NYU doesn’t have that much money) completely enclose each balcony. The effect, at least from afar, is that of some crazy golden waterfall. The panels resemble both golden lace, which is a kind of lovely image, and pixels, which they were intended to do (and is a less lovely image).
Gawker (with an entirely accurate yet probably upsetting headline) pointed out the different reactions on Twitter, which at least now seem mostly positive. Most tweets make mention of the new Bobst’s “beautiful suicide prevention screen” which just might be the creepiest architectural phrase ever.
The “beautiful suicide prevention screen” does have several thoughtful details, such as having its largest openings on the north side of Bobst’s atrium, where the most light can come in. The panels are light, allow ventilation, and are “in emergencies, smoke-purging.” Good thing that those smoke-purging atriums aren’t outside amongst those students lighting up outside. Yet.
Andrew T. Repoli, a director of construction management at NYU, told the Times that they wanted come up with something sympathetic to the original design but which also represented today’s aesthetic. If that aesthetic is pixels, then we are in for a sad, sad looking world. If that’s the thinking behind the project, then the whole thing kind of feels like a Project Runway challenge where the designers fail at interpreting everything.
Our full reaction is on Tumblr. What do you think of the new Bobst?