Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger Hall

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Institution Name: Barnard College
Original/Historic Place Name: Centennial Hall
Location on Campus: south eastern end of campus, facing Clermont, at 116th to 117th St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1986-1989original construction Stewart, James Polshek & Partners
Designer: James Stewart; Polshek & Partners
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Contemporary (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete
Walls: brick
Roof: concrete
1989-present (2006)residence halls (with offices, lounges, and a penthouse suite for meetings and events)

Barnard College's first two dormitories, Brooks Hall (1906-1907) and Hewitt Hall (1924-1925), are two wings of what was planned as a tripartite dormitory complex at the southern end of the college campus. In 1957-1959, a truncated east wing was erected--the undistinguished Helen Reid Hall (O'Connor & Kilham). By the 1980s, Barnard's increasing enrollment and the desire of college students to live on campus resulted in a decision to erect a large new dormitory. Its construction marks the transition of the very nature of the College from a largely commuting student population to a fully residential student body.

James Stewart Polshek & Partners, among the most prestigious architectural firms in New York during the final decades of the 20th century, completed the east wing and also converted the tripartite dormitory complex into a quadrangle. The most significant feature of the new dormitory is a seventeen-story tower capped by flagpoles, a clock, and a bell. The building is faced in brick of a color similar to that used on earlier campus buildings. The massing of the new dormitory in the form of a bell tower also creates an identifiable focus for the college, which previously lacked a visual anchor on Broadway. The building originally was called Centennial Hall, a reference to the fact that it was erected one hundred years after the establishment of Barnard College in 1887. Soon after its completion it was renamed in honor of Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger, an alumna, as a result of a major gift to the College by her children.


"Centennial Hall, Barnard College," Architecture and Urbanism 242 (1990): 88-95.

Dolkart, Andrew S. Morningside Heights: A History of Its Architecture and Development. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998, 203-24.

"Holding Court," Architectural Record 177 (October 1989): 112-15.


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