Swirbul Library

Adelphi University, visioning and pre-design


Completed in 1963, Adelphi’s Swirbul Library was designed by famed mid-century modern American architect, Richard Neutra.  At the time, the library’s core function was rooted in its physical collections.  As Swirbul’s collections outgrew their allotted square footage, spaces for students and library staff were compromised.  To address concurrent growth of collections and an expanding student population, collections have been gradually taken out of circulation and moved into storage.

The goal of this project is to help Swirbul Library reclaim its identity as the academic heart of the university by establishing an architectural framework to resolve conflicting challenges of modernization and historic preservation, expansion and consolidation.  Students, faculty and administrators participated in visioning workshops and panel discussions regarding 21st century academic library planning and the specific types of programming and resources that would be most transformative for Adelphi University.

 Solutions identified include both surgical intervention and bulk enlargement of the library.  To allow time for fundraising and prevent an interruption in library services a series of phased interior renovations were identified.  Within the existing library building, university archives and special collections were brought out of the cellar and new areas were planned for collaborative group study, immersive gaming, 3D printing, makerspace and peer-to-peer tutoring.

 In the summer of 2014, a preliminary, low-cost installation was completed to help understand Adelphi student study habits.  Collaboration studios were planned and designed in space previously occupied by stacks of bound periodicals. The library has partnered with Makerbot to build an “innovation studio” which is planned for 2016.


project academic interior renovation location New York, NY size 75,000sf (existing), 18,500sf (additional) client CUNY Hunter College scope of services visioning and pre-design, planning and programming, phase one architectural design completion 2008 (pre-design)


see also:

Cooperman Library, Third Floor

Cooperman Library, predesign and programming

Zabar Art Library and Screening Room

Frankfort Education Library