Come See the New Neilson

Members of the Smith community will have their first opportunity to see designs for the college’s new Neilson Library at a public event at noon on Friday, Oct. 14, as acclaimed designer Maya Lin unveils drawings of the redesigned library.

Smith College President Kathleen McCartney will host the event, which will take place in Sage Hall. The presentation will also feature Janette S. Blackburn of the architectural firm of Shepley Bulfinch, which is partnering with Maya Lin Studio on the library project.

“Andrew Carnegie once said that a library ‘outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people,’” McCartney said.

“Maya Lin has worked closely with Shepley Bulfinch and the college’s Design Committee to develop the ideal library for the 21st century,” said McCartney, “a place where students, faculty, and members of the broader community can come together to learn, research, and explore ideas in different ways and across a range of platforms. And they’re attempting to do this in a design that is innovative, aesthetically pleasing, and environmentally sustainable. I have every confidence that the design Maya Lin will reveal October 14 will accomplish this brilliantly, in a way that is distinctly Smith.”

Groundbreaking for the new Neilson—which will be Smith’s largest capital project in a decade, and the first redesign of the library since 1982—is scheduled to begin in 2017.

The Smith Board of Trustees announced the selection of Maya Lin Studio and Shepley Bulfinch as partners on the project in April 2015. Over the past 18 months, nearly 1,900 students, faculty, staff, alumnae and members of the Northampton community have participated in more than 30 “engagement sessions designed to help re-imagine Neilson for the 21st century.

These engagement sessions took varied forms—teas, faculty lunches, one-on-one meetings, an online survey—and centered on key themes related to the library redesign, including types of space, flexibility of space, technology and the future of Smith’s unique collections and archives. Other important issues discussed during these sessions included the sustainability, diversity and accessibility goals of the library, as well as its resources and services.

About Neilson Library at Smith College

Built in 1909 and expanded in 1962 and in 1982, Neilson Library holds pride of place on the Smith College campus, sitting between the science quad and the arts and humanities quad.

Named for Smith’s third president, William Allan Neilson, the building serves as the social sciences and humanities library and includes the library administration offices. Neilson also is home to several important archival collections—including the Smith College Archives, the Mortimer Rare Book Room, and the Sophia Smith Collection, one of the world’s largest and most important archives of women’s history.

About Maya Lin

Maya Lin’s acclaimed work encompasses large-scale environmental installations, intimate studio artworks, architectural works and memorials. She virtually redefined the idea of monument with her very first work, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and since then has gone on to pursue a remarkable career in both art and architecture, while still being committed to the exploration of time, memory, history and language in her memorials.

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