Building Barnard 

By Annette Kahn

Photographs courtesy of Barnard Archives and Special Collections

Since 1896, Barnard’s campus has enjoyed steady growth. Archival photos show the gradual transformation of the four and one-half acres of land into the compact and verdant site of what has become the premier higher-education institution for women in New York—some would say the world. The pictures available do not show a complete chronology, but do reveal how these construction sites marked a sure and steady growth curve.


Brooks Hall, completed in 1907, was the first on-campus residential facility and was named after Rev. Arthur Brooks, the first president of the board of trustees. An early 1900s photo shows a gathering of academics taking part in a ceremony at the construction site. The elevation of Brooks Hall shows the façade that faces West 116th Street. In 1925, Brooks was joined by Hewitt Hall, designed by McKim, Mead & White. Both structures were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.


At the northern end of the campus, Milbank Hall was completed in 1896, 
and is the campus’s oldest building. It received two additions on either side: Brinckerhoff Hall, in 1896, and Fiske Hall, two years later. The photos show a ’50s renovation. Dedicated in 1998, the Arthur Ross Greenhouse, a state-of-the-art 
plant-growth facility, now sits atop the original roof. >/p>


The fourth dean of Barnard, Millicent Carey McIntosh, left, was named president in 1952. In a l958 photo, she reviews plans for Lehman Hall with Mary Louise Stewart Reid ’46, a College trustee at the time. Sealing the date stone at the completion of Lehman Hall are (from left): Achilles Kohn of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, McIntosh, Adele Lewisohn Lehman ’03, for whom the building was named, and Samuel Milbank, a Barnard trustee.


A ghostlike crane hovers over the framework of Reid Hall, dedicated in 1962 and named for former trustee Helen Rogers Reid ’03. Barnard president “Mrs. Mac” takes the driver’s seat of a bulldozer. Red brick and limestone echo the more ornate designs of Brooks and Hewitt Halls.


Completed in 1969, Altschul Hall is used primarily for science classrooms and faculty offices; it also houses the Lehman Auditorium. Architect Vincent Kling designed the 14-story structure, which was named for Helen Goodhart Altschul ’07. Altschul’s construction was combined with the building of the McIntosh Student Center, once directly across from it. New York architectural firm O’Connor & Kilham, known for mid-century modern buildings, designed Altschul.


Sulzberger Hall, named for Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger ’14 in 1991, became the fourth on-campus residence and formed the Quad with Brooks, Hewitt, and Reid Halls. Built on the occasion of Barnard’s 100th anniversary and originally called Centennial Hall, Sulzberger was designed by James Stewart Polshek & Partners. President Judith Shapiro welcomed alumnae and friends to the groundbreaking ceremony in 1987; the building opened at the beginning of the academic year 1988–89. This dormitory’s construction allowed Barnard to guarantee campus housing to all students for the 
first time.

The Diana Center

Opened in 2010, the center is a multi-use space that includes classrooms, the architecture studio, faculty and administrative offices, student and faculty dining rooms, the Event Oval, and the Glicker-Milstein Theatre. Designed by Weiss/Manfredi and named for Diana Touliatou Vagelos ’55, the building was much praised in the press. The outer shell is sheathed in glass “frits,” carefully tested to ensure stability in all kinds of weather. At the ribbon cutting (from left) are Anna Quindlen ’74, Roy and Diana Vagelos, and Barnard president Debora Spar.

Coming in 2018

Barnard’s distinctive new teaching and learning center will provide a diverse range of innovative and essential resources that will continue the College’s legacy of educational excellence into the 21st century. The building was conceived—in design, structure, and program­—to celebrate Barnard’s stellar faculty, ambitious students, and dedicated staff. To be constructed on the site of Lehman Hall, the center will house a core selection of books, journals, and special collections in what could be described as a new kind of library, one incorporating modern technologies and learning spaces in an interactive setting. Designed by the award-winning architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, the teaching and learning center is scheduled to open its doors in the fall of 2018; it will consist of a main structure of five terraced floors and an 11-story tower. It will house a computational science center and a digital commons with five teaching labs and flexible learning spaces to support research. Classrooms will feature the latest technology for seminars and large group discussions. The center will be home to the economics, history, political science, and urban studies departments, the Barnard Center for Research on Women, and the Athena Center for Leadership Studies. A dynamic hub for the campus, the teaching and learning center will link faculty and students, as well as departments and disciplines, both physically and philosophically.

To see preliminary drawings of the new center, go to

Click on the gallery for enlarged photos.