Robert K. Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life at Columbia University


This elegant multifunctional facility provides much-needed space for programs related to the study of all aspects of Jewish life and serves as a cultural and religious center for Columbia University`s sizable Jewish community. The Kraft Family Center consists of eight floors of facilities for education, worship, and social activities and can accommodate more than 40 student groups from Columbia and Barnard. Gruzen Samton • IBI Group has completed multiple projects for the university, including two campus centers and three residence halls. The design team met symbolic and functional objectives for the center`s mission. A grand staircase functions as the central circulation path, while visually and physically connecting the building`s diverse spaces. The other predominant design element, a stone wall housing the staircase, serves a symbolic role for the facility, as the wall, a powerful historic reference, is sheathed in Jerusalem stone. The building plan is organized vertically, with the most public spaces (student lounge, grand hall) adjacent to the entry. The balance of space is organized relative to the frequency and level of its use, with the more popular public spaces on the lower levels and the more intimate spaces located on upper floors. Within the center, a series of strategically placed lounges, libraries and meeting rooms allow for expansion and contraction of the facility to accommodate a variety of situations. A large venue on the lower level is equipped for food service and can accommodate up to 400 people.

Constructed, 1999