Cherry trees in bloom in front of Jerome Greene Hall

Reimagining the Law Library

The Law School will undertake a multi-year project to renovate—and fully reimagine—the Law Library into a marquee space befitting its place at the nexus of student learning, groundbreaking scholarship, and community life. 

About the Project

Columbia Law School is a world-class educational institution that must provide its students with modern and functional spaces in which to study, convene, and collaborate. The renovation of the Law Library—one of the largest capital investments in the Law School's history—will deliver on that imperative with a total redesign of three floors of Jerome L. Greene Hall, comprising nearly 50,000 square feet in total. Made possible through funds raised during the Campaign for Columbia Law, including a lead gift from alumna Alia Tutor '00, the new space will include:

  • An open, light-filled design with views across Revson and Ancell Plazas
  • A signature two-story reading room
  • More than 600 study seats, an increase of up to 70 percent over the current library's capacity
  • Reservable group study rooms of various sizes designed to be flexible and adaptable to evolving law school pedagogy
  • State-of-the-art technology, ample supply of power, and flexible room and seating configurations
  • Tastefully appointed furniture, fixtures, and aesthetic details throughout to create a comfortable, well-designed, and beautiful space for all who use it

HOW WE GOT HERE: COMMUNITY INPUT

Beginning in 2017, we began to explore the possibility of a large-scale Library renovation and engaged the leading architectural firm Perkins Eastman to facilitate focus groups, conduct benchmark analyses of other academic law libraries, and examine the constraints and opportunities of the building itself. The results of that process were shared with a task force of faculty, students, and administrators—including members of the Law Library staff—which was tasked with gathering input from our community, identifying the most pressing space needs and priorities, and helping to inform possible design directions.

STAY CONNECTED

Project updates will be communicated via email, through the Campus in Motion email newsletter, and archived below. If you have questions about the Library renovation, please contact [email protected]. If you would like to report construction-related issues or disruption once work commences, please contact Building Services at [email protected].

NOVEMBER 29, 2022

Looking Ahead: Library Renovation Project

What Comes Next: The Project Scope and Timeline

Those who regularly make use of the Library will certainly understand the urgent need for this renovation and will also appreciate the project’s formidable scale. Involving roughly 50,000 square feet of space located within the core Law School’s main academic building, this project is one of the most complex and significant in our history—and in the long history of Columbia’s Morningside campus. 

The Law Library Renovation Project will be divided into three distinct phases: 

  • Design Development and Pre-Construction (Winter/Spring 2023): Over the next several months, the architects will work to finalize design elements—including seating configurations, technology equipment, furniture, and finishes in consultation with the Library Renovation Steering Committee. During the upcoming winter break, we will begin some preparatory work within the Library to create temporary workspace for the Library staff and begin to remove shelving on the 2nd and 5th floors. 
  • Phase 1: Fire Safety and Building System Upgrades (Summer 2023-Summer 2024): Prior to any renovation work taking place, New York City building code requires that fire sprinklers be installed throughout Jerome Greene Hall and that other building systems be upgraded. Multiple floors and sections of JGH will be temporarily taken offline, in successive phases, for periods of several weeks at a time. The floor-by-floor plan for completing this work is currently being developed and more detailed plans will be shared early in the new year. A plan will be developed with the goal of minimizing inconvenience to occupants of JGH, although some disruption will be unavoidable.
  • Phase 2: Law Library Construction (Fall 2024-Summer 2025): Once the Phase 1 work is completed (expected by the end of Summer 2024), demolition of the existing library space and construction of the new Law Library can commence. While the Library is undergoing renovation, the print collection will continue to be available to students and faculty, though may require additional retrieval time for materials. In addition to the newly acquired space in William and June Warren Hall, the Law School is also planning to make other study spaces available to students, both at the Law School and elsewhere on campus. 

As we prepare to move forward, a Library Renovation Steering Committee—including faculty, students, librarians, and staff—will convene in December and into the spring to serve as the primary means of gathering input from across the community. At the same time, teams of experts at the Law School and University level are working actively to construct project plans, taking into account the complexity of a project of this scope and its location in the Law School's central academic building. 

Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law

"The renovated Law Library will provide much-needed space for quiet and active study, flexibly configured group rooms for team-based learning and collaboration, and state-of-the-art technology. In all, the renovation is expected to increase seating capacity by up to 70%. Once completed, the Alia Tutor Law Library will serve as a magnet for students, both current and prospective—a space in which we can all take pride."

Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law

Project Phases

Design Development and Pre-Construction

Before work can begin, much of the Library's collection needs to be relocated, and temporary work space made available for Library staff to use during the renovation project is underway. 

Phase 1: Fire Safety and Building System Upgrades

Before renovation work can begin on the Library itself, New York City building code requires that fire sprinklers be installed throughout Jerome Greene Hall and other building systems be upgraded. This is a major undertaking that is critically important to the building's infrastructure and the safety of its occupants. 

Phase 2: Law Library Construction

Once the Phase 1 work is completed, demolition of the existing library space and construction of the new Law Library can commence. 

Faculty
Katherine Franke, James L. Dohr Professor of Law
Kellen Funk, Associate Professor of Law
Monica Hakimi, William S. Beinecke Professor of Law
Michael Heller, Lawrence A. Wien Professor of Real Estate Law and Vice Dean for Curriculum
Conrad Johnson, Clinical Professor of Law
Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law

Students
Erin McKissick, JD ‘23
Celeste Kearney, JD ‘24
Kiara Luyando Hardi, JD ‘24, Chair of Student Senate IT + Building Committee
Charles Simonds, JD ‘25
Andres Latorre, LLM ‘23

Staff
Narine Bournoutian, Systems and Electronic Resources Librarian 
Julie Godsoe, Editorial Director, Communications, Marketing, and Public Affairs
Nkonye Iwerebon, Associate Dean, J.D. Admissions 
Frantz Merine, Chief Information Officer, Information Technology
Julie Sculli, Assistant Dean, Graduate Degree Programs 
Rick Turk, Executive Director, Development and Alumni Relations
Nam Jin Yoon, Reference Librarian and Lecturer in Law
Vacant, Executive Director of Student Services, Community Engagement, and Equity

Project Timeline

Winter/Spring 2023

Design Development and Pre-Construction

Summer 2023 - Summer 2024

Phase 1: Fire Safety and Building System Upgrades in Jerome Greene Hall

Fall 2024 - Summer 2025

Phase 2: Law Library Construction

Fall 2025

Law Library Renovation Complete

What to Expect

The pre-construction phase will begin during the Winter Recess, with work concentrated within the 2nd and 5th floor Library spaces. Existing collections in the affected areas will be removed and new carpet and furniture will be installed. These sections will remain closed through the end of January and are expected to reopen in February 2023 as temporary space to accommodate students and Library staff.

This work will involve workers erecting temporary protective barriers, removing and relocating furniture, and removing sections of flooring and installing new flooring materials. It is not expected to create excessive noise or disrupt day-to-day access or work of those outside the specific areas affected. 

After the work is completed on the 2nd and 5th floor Library spaces, we do not anticipate any other significant closures during the spring 2023 semester. Patrons may begin to see library collections relocated during this time and are encouraged to contact Library staff if there is any difficulty locating materials.

Following University Commencement in May 2023, workers will begin to install sprinklers and upgrade fire safety systems throughout Jerome Greene Hall. This is required by New York City building codes and must take place before the demolition and renovation of the Library space can commence.

This work will involve workers drilling holes through concrete, installing new sprinkler feeder pipes in building shaftways, and placing sprinkler pipes and heads into ceilings, offices, and common areas. Even though every effort will be made to minimize disruption, this is an inherently noisy project that will significantly unavoidably affect building occupants. Multiple floors and sections of Jerome Greene Hall will be temporarily taken offline in successive phases for periods of several weeks in order to allow this work to be completed. While work is underway, employees in the affected areas will not be able to access their offices or workstations. We will be in close touch with occupants of those floors about the schedule of work, as well as alternative workspaces and other flexible work options.

Once the Phase 1 work is completed and approved by the New York City Department of Buildings, demolition of the existing library space and construction of the renovated Law Library will begin. The Library's collection will remain open during construction. More details will follow. 

Law Library Renovation

20

flexible group study rooms

70%

estimated increase in seating capacity

$25M+

raised to date for the Library renovation

Related News & Stories