NEW YORK, April 5, 2019 – Barnard College’s Cheryl and Philip Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning has been awarded the prestigious 2019 AIA/ALA Library Building Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Library Association (ALA), which partner every year to honor the best in library architecture and design. The Milstein Center was one of six libraries worldwide to be selected; all submissions were designed by American architects.

The Milstein Center was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) — the global firm behind design superstars like One World Trade and Burj Khalifa — and built with funding from major donors, including Barnard alumna Cheryl Glicker Milstein '82 and her husband, Philip; the Tow Foundation on behalf of Leonard Tow and daughter Emily Tow Jackson '88; and Diana T. Vagelos '55 and her husband, P. Roy Vagelos. It has fast become the academic heart of the College since its grand opening on October 3, 2018, after 24 months of construction on the former site of Lehman Hall. Comprising a five-floor base and an 11-story tower on Barnard’s leafy, four-acre campus, The Milstein Center is an environmentally responsible, 128,000-square-foot learning and gathering space and an innovative model for how libraries are evolving.

“We are extremely honored to receive this award for The Milstein Center, which is a dynamic showcase of what Barnard means by ‘academic excellence,’” said Barnard College President Sian Leah Beilock. “This thoroughly modern and beautiful building is dedicated to infusing digital, computational, and empirical methods into teaching, research, and learning. Students, faculty, and the wider community have already made it a central hub for campus activity in the few short months since it opened, and its remarkable design is just one of the many reasons why.”

“As a proud Barnard alumna, I wanted to give back in an impactful, enduring way to a truly unique educational institution that forever changed my life,” said Milstein of her alma mater and namesake building. “From the more than 370 inspired, sunlight-filled meeting rooms and study spaces above, down to the green terraces and cozy lounge chairs that welcome today’s patrons to enjoy the library in bold, new ways, it was important to me that the architecture and all aspects of its design reflected my commitment and gratitude as well as the singular experience of Barnard.”

As part of Columbia University’s four undergraduate colleges, Barnard’s 2,600 students most frequently visit The Milstein Center; however, it often bustles with members of the surrounding Morningside Heights community as well as Columbia students as the University’s only library dedicated to serving undergraduates.

Award recipient projects were selected by a six-member jury composed of architects and library professionals. The formal awards ceremony will take place June 6-7, 2019, at AIA’s national convention in Las Vegas. There will also be a reception in Washington, D.C., at AIA’s headquarters on June 24. The AIA/ALA Library Building Award is the only award that recognizes entire library structures and all aspects of their design.

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About Barnard

Barnard provides a singular educational experience, as a world-renowned college focused on excellence across the arts and sciences, with all the academic resources of Columbia University and the City of New York as an extended classroom. Founded in 1889, Barnard was one of the few colleges in the nation where women could receive the same rigorous and challenging education available to men. Today, Barnard is one of the most selective academic institutions in the country and remains devoted to empowering extraordinary women to become even more exceptional. For more information on Barnard College, contact Barnard Media Relations at 212-854-2037 or To learn more, follow Barnard on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

About the Milstein Center

Featuring 12,000 square feet of green roofs and outdoor terraces that reduce heat and provide inviting spaces for study, contemplation, and connection to nature within Barnard College’s urban campus, the building’s design embodies our responsible, innovative, and bold approach to learning. A double-height ceiling and an exposed-wood staircase lend drama to the 40,000-square-foot library collections, which feature a core collection of books, journals, zines, and special collections, and enhanced storage for the Barnard archives. The Milstein Center also hosts various academic departments, including economics, political science, and urban studies, in addition to several of Barnard’s internationally acclaimed programs, including the Athena Center for Leadership and the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW). Several educational centers are also housed inside The Milstein Center and work in partnership with the library: the Vagelos Computational Science Center, affirming Barnard’s commitment to preparing women for success in STEM fields; the Center for Engaged Pedagogy, to offer new methodologies in teaching innovation and student learning; the Digital Humanities Center, to enhance digital literacy and leverage advances in humanistic inquiry with cutting-edge technology; the Design Center, a maker space that will encourage thinking across disciplines; the Empirical Reasoning Center, to support students as they engage with data in meaningful, responsible ways; the Elsie K. Sloate Media Center, featuring labs where students will build valuable knowledge and confidence in emerging skills and technologies used by 21st-century digital producers and creators; and the Movement Lab, for hands-on, innovative movement research, exploration, and production, and to promote the exchange of ideas and cross-fertilization of movement with other disciplines.