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The new Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) Lounge is located within Philosophy Hall, a landmarked building originally designed by McKim, Mead & White.

The lounge is a popular destination on campus for students and faculty. One of the challenges of renovating this McKim, Meade & White building was to respect the original proportions and quality of light of this double-height space while creating a fantastic acoustic experience suitable for quiet conversations, chamber concerts, and amplified voice and music.


To achieve this we replaced plaster walls and ceilings with a high performance perforated drywall. In addition, we created a floating ceiling that could hide new audio-visual technology, lighting, HVAC, and window treatment systems. The result is a dramatic increase in acoustic performance for all types of uses.


The space is designed for flexibility. During the day the space has become a very popular café and study space. After hours the café function is hidden away and the space can transform into a performance space suitable for movies, speeches, music, and other impromptu shows. The west side of the room is designed with built-in seating that has a great view to the lawn. The commercial kitchen and back-of-house spaces are used by the café operator to maintain a wide variety of high quality and unique food offerings. There is a new entrance vestibule that provides access control while creating a much-needed sound trap between the building’s public lobby and the lounge. A small conference room is designed for use as a seminar room for students and as a green room for performers.

For more information, see the Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website.


Project Type




Building Area

Services Provided

3,000 ft

280 m

Interior Design Acoustic & Audio Visual Design







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