Lerner 2010: A Place For Students!

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Rendering of reception area

Since Lerner Hall flung open its perplexing glass doors in 1999, students have complained that for a student center, there is little space in the building for student activities, except perhaps for the occasional pianist trickling out “Claire de Lune.” Space reservation headaches aside, much of Lerner is used for administrative purposes. This summer, much of Lerner 4 will be renovated. Bwog sat in on a student leaders’ lunch today to learn more.

All of Lerner 4 is to become the new Center for Student Advising. Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger said the outcome of four years of planning has been a vision for “one central, visible advising center.” Previously spread over five locations, all advising deans will now have offices in Lerner.

Dean of Advising Monique Rinere spoke of a “nurturing … space for students” that would contribute to the “sense of community.” This being Columbia, community is to be established using colors and furnishings. Gesturing at a colorful diagram (see the gallery below), Rinere said that the myriad small advising spaces would be “punctuated by public spaces” so it “won’t be … like a clinic.” A canopy based on the design of the new Lerner 6 tiles (you know, from that Lady Gaga video– hai, VShow preview!) will spread over the whole space for a sense of unity over the different spaces within the office. Each will have a different design so it’s “not like going to the DMV where you pick a number and go up to a grouchy person who doesn’t really want to help you.”

Instead of entering through a long hallway, there will be a reception desk and waiting area/conference room outside the elevators. Many windows will allow for “tons of light” throughout the space and each advisor will have his or her own office with space for two guests. Four lounges will be named after asking students which “iconically Columbian” names should be used. Bwog suggests Rider Strong Lounge (history lesson: apparently Rider, aka Sean from Boy Meets World, walked around campus with a hoodie and sunglasses for fear of being recognized during his days as an undergrad). There is, of course, the obvious choice– Jonathan Taylor Thomas Rotunda.

Rendering of the seating area

The space issue seemed to be the theme of the meeting since it has been a major concern for Columbia students. There will be several small conference rooms, two medium conference rooms, and one large conference room adjacent to the waiting room. The architect, Stephen Yablon, who also designed the Student Affairs offices on Lerner 6, even provided several suggestions for configuring the spaces for various uses like lectures and tutoring sessions. If all goes as planned, all conference rooms will be available for student use after hours and on the weekends. Details for reservations and scheduling remain have yet to be sorted out.

Since many offices will have to move, there will be minor renovations to Lerner 5 as well. The Office of Multicultural Affairs will move where the lounge with the black chairs is now and the resource area with the computers will be converted into a space that’s more like a conference room. The computers will be moved into an old office in the back. Both spaces will still be available for use by students, though Multicultural Affairs has dibs on the space adjacent to their new offices.

As for the old CSA spaces in other buildings, their use remains TBA. Offices displaced during the renovation will be housed in old CSA offices during the summer and then will move back into Lerner. Shollenberger said that the old spaces could possibly be turned into meeting spaces and that a proposal has been floated to turn them into performance spaces.

The actual renovations will take place this summer. Everyone’s moving out of Lerner 4 on May 19 after graduation and will move back in August 16.

Floor plans and renderings after the jump!

Lerner 4 floor plan

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  1. Alum

    Let me see if I understand this.

    Problem: "There is little space in the building for student activities"

    Solution: Add lots of administrative offices.

    Have I missed something?

    • agreed  

      yeah, no kidding. pathetic. after having been sent to 3 different offices in Lerner today on account of ridiculous policies set up by this bureaucratic institution I truly realized how much of that darn building is just office space for people with rando jobs

    • Anonymous  

      The space at the top left of the first drawing, the waiting area and the board room, will be opened up for student groups when the advising office is closed. They are not yet sure how students will go about reserving that space, but students will be able to get at it. Also, for this project they closed other advising offices in Shapiro and Broadway, which has opened up that space, allowing for more student space. The consolidation actually does open up space for students.

      • ok  

        sure. but you know what I've been thinking for a while? Closing off the part of Ferris Booth that involves food (for example, that folding fence-type thing that's on the upper level of Ferris booth) and then leaving the seating area on the third floor open for students when Ferris is closed will also give students more space. Lots of small tables to work at, more space for students that is absolutely wasted during the million hours a year Ferris is closed.

        • Wait  

          I'm pretty sure that IS left open even after Ferris closes.

          Actually, I'm certain it is.

          • wait  

            then why is no one ever in there??

          • Anonymous  

            No the area on the 3rd floor is definitely locked after 8pm when Ferris closes. Only the seating on the 4th floor stays open after hours. I agree though, the 3rd floor ought to stay open as well...

          • Meant to post this as a reply  

            True, then tell an administrator. I’ve talked to so many and when I tell them certain things they just say wow, I had no idea. And then they write something down and attempt to fix the problem. They really are some good people that want to help, students just don’t take advantage of that here because of the stigma about the Columbia bureaucracy.

  2. Anonymous  

    why are all the students in the renderings white?

  3. the late '90s  

    they live still!

  4. Anonymous  

    BSO study break with Chinese food @ Malcolm X Lounge - Hartley. NOW.

  5. llllllllllllll  


  6. Harmony Hunter  

    Harmony Hall is another place for students... literally, because that is where they live.

  7. Anonymous  

    Are you fucking kidding me? Reducing the last remaining bits of student space for more offices?!?! What the hell?!

    And I'm fully expecting any multi-conference room to have token student usage, with the majority of it being devoted to administrative usage and outside conferences.

    I don't know why I donated to the senior fund...

    • You're wrong  

      Actually, I was there. There are no student spaces that were lost. There are new meeting places that will be open to students after hours and the residence halls space where other offices are opening are now going to students.

      The student spaces on the 5th floor were just flipped with admin offices to put them all in one side.

  8. TIP

    Tip!!!!! Ambulance and 2 cops at bway btw 114 and 115, lots of men in yellow shirts

  9. Rider

    Can we talk about how Rider Strong transferred to Columbia...from Occidental.

  10. True  

    Then tell an administrator. I've talked to so many and when I tell them certain things they just say wow, I had no idea. And then they write something down and attempt to fix the problem. They really are some good people that want to help, students just don't take advantage of that here because of the stigma about the Columbia bureaucracy.

  11. If  

    Administrators use this room, then they aren't using a different room in Lerner and that is open to students.

    • Anish  (Bwog Staff)  

      I didn't include it in the post, but the Deans did mention that they were hoping to free up 555 and the Satow room by using these other rooms.

  12. maybe

    I'm just clueless, but in the floorplan above where are the ramps?

  13. lack of memory

    In 2007 - students and administrators agreed on two things 1) that there should be a single CSA and not FYSAAC and JSAAC, 2) there should be a common space for the new office to encourage its usage, and to truly make it a 'one stop shop' for questions about columbia, the place you go and will be able to find answers. it would also impress upon adivsors to be available, and not hidden away. Of all the things that students complained about the most at columbia, even more than space (as it seems, most students are rather understanding that columbia is tight on space) is the belief that columbia is 'too bureaucratic,' 'lacks advising resources,' 'advisors are overloaded.' on one hand of course the advising system is only as good as the advisors in it - as someone who had two great advisors, i know that if you use them for what they are there for - your life is very very easy, i got so many opportunities, but i think a lot has to do with my luck of the draw.

    this meant that it would have to incorporate a 2 step process - first to find the funding, which the uni did, to finally claim lerner 6 for undergraduates, and after negotiations the thought was that lerner 4 made the most logical choice for making the unified student advising center.

    further, part of the creation of CSA was a promise that it would lower the advisor load to 1 advisor per 150 students (which by any university standard is unheard of, makes columbia instantly one of the leaders in the degree of close affiliation), which meant that there needed to be more space for advisors. and the hiring of Monica Rinere meant that CU has a top flight dean who has experience running advising systems at Harvard and Princeton.

    so to students who wanted lerner 6 for space, it was perhaps unfortunately overruled for this other pressing priority, but it was what students called for the most at the time.

    re: space - there is slowly but surely more space opening up, the satellite offices are a start, but in the longer term the new campus will open up space on morningside that will translate to student needs.

    re: lerner - lerner's newish director Honey Sue Fishman is a fantastic and receptive administrator, she really cares about how the place is run, and likes to hear feedback, and works on it quickly. if there is something she can do that doesn't make lerner lose money, she'll do it. don't be afraid to ask, even if you are not on student council. she's really made lerner better.

  14. Anonymous  

    I'm now resigned to the fact that Lerner's original sin, despite all efforts, can never be removed.

    If you go to this website -- -- you can read all the various scathing reviews from the start. One of them is a May 2001 review of Tschumi's book about Lerner, from a publication called "The Blue and White" (now where have I heard that name before...) Excerpt:

    "The lack of concern for the students (and staff, administrators, guests, etc.) for whom this student center was designed runs throughout Tschumi's commentary on his work.... As Tschumi writes, Lerner is "not about forms, but about forces" -- a thought one should keep in mind when navigating the poorly-planned aggregation of ramps and stairs that are required simply to get to one's mailbox. We can take comfort in the knowledge that, at night, our bodies on the ramps form a sort of "silent shadow theater" for those in the know."

  15. ...  

    it will still suck.

    what do you get when you go to the diana?

    a lively space with a nice and reasonably priced cafe, acoustic antifolk playing and a room full of girls making bead jewelry off to one side.

    what do you, and will you get, forever, when going into lerner?

    a recreation of an airport terminal in stunning detail. crappy overpriced food, pissed off people, sterile decor.

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