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 and White.

The lounge is a popular destination on campus for students and faculty.  One of the challenges of renovating this McKim, Meade and 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.

Project Type






Building Area

Site Area

Services Provided

162,000 sf

5 acres

Architectural Design

Interior Design

Sustainability Strategy

Site Design





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