Low Memorial Library

New York, United States

The Low Memorial Library (also nicknamed Low) is a building on the campus of Columbia University in Morningside Heights, Manhattan. Designed by Charles Follen McKim of the firm McKim, Mead & White, the building was constructed between 1895 and 1897 as the university's central library. The building was funded with $1 million from university president Seth Low, who named the edifice in memory of his father, Abiel Abbot Low. It houses the central administrative offices of the university.

Low Library, developed as the centerpiece of the university's Morningside Heights campus, is arranged in the shape of a Greek cross. Three sets of stairs on the south side of the building lead to an Ionic-style colonnade; the steps contain Daniel Chester French's sculpture Alma Mater, a university symbol. Inside, Low contains four stories, the most prominent of which is the raised first floor, which has an entrance vestibule and an ambulatory surrounding a central rotunda. The library's stacks were meant to store 1.5 million volumes.

The library was built as part of Columbia University's Morningside Heights campus, which was developed in the 1890s according to a master plan by McKim. When Low Library was completed, it was poorly suited for library use, but its central location made it a focal point of the university's campus. Following the completion of the much larger Butler Library in 1934, the building was converted to administrative offices.



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Founded: 1895-1897
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in United States

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