When students in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning returned to campus this fall, they were greeted with a grand addition to their historic Rand Hall — the completion of the new Mui Ho Fine Arts Library.
The new space, located on the top floors of the hall, houses approximately 100,000 volumes of fine arts, design and urban planning materials as well as new spaces for research, computing, instruction and studying, according to an AAP press release.
The vast collection of books, held in three levels of stacks, is suspended in the center of the library to create a floating appearance. Bonna Boettcher, the Director of the Olin, Uris, Music and Fine Arts Libraries, said this allows the library to be described in just one word: “light.”
“Light in all senses: The book stacks float and are permeable to light and air; the study desks and counter appear to float; the windows are large and the light is bright,” said Boettcher in an email to the Sun.
The space was designed by a Cornellian — Wolfgang Tschapeller, M.Arch ’87. According to the college’s website, the aim of the project was to “create a space in which bodies intermingle with books but are also surrounded by digital resources and opportunities for collaborative study.”
In addition to an aesthetically pleasing design and comprehensive collection of books, the library includes a service counter, where a student can go for help with any library needs.
“Libraries are at their best when they serve as both resource and refuge,” said Gerald R. Beasley, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, in a 2019 post from the University’s library blog.
“Yes, the expertise of library staff at the Mui Ho Fine Arts Library is sure to be one of the main reasons students and faculty visit the space,” he continued. “Combined with its outstanding collections, this expertise guarantees that students and faculty alike will find themselves rewarded with answers every time they visit the library, even if those answers lead to further questions.”
Maddie Collins ’21, a student in the Department of City and Regional Planning, said she was enthusiastic about the new study space right in Rand Hall.
“Rand Hall was under renovation for the entirety of my first two years at Cornell, and I am happy to finally have access to the space,” Collins said. “Now, all AAP students have a designated spot with relevant resources, access to important technologies, and work space that suits our needs as creative academics.”
Additionally, both administrators and students hope it will create a collaborative environment open to students across all areas of study.
“It is enriching for everyone to have more interactions with individuals across the disciplines, and I think that the new library will help to facilitate that,” Collins said.
“We hope students from across Cornell’s departments and colleges will take the time to visit the Mui Ho Fine Arts Library,” agreed Boettcher. “It is an inspiring space, and one that should spark interesting ideas, conversations and collaborations.”
The Mui Ho Fine Arts Library officially opened to the public on August 5. Its namesake is Mui Ho ’62 (M.Arch ‘66), an architect and retired educator who donated $6 million to create the library in 2013, according to the University’s press release.