Columbia University School of Law – The Toaster



I think it took about 17 seconds from the time unveiling of the design for the Columbia University School of Law building, aka Jerome L. Greene Hall, before someone started calling it The Toaster. This balcony looks like the sliding button on the end of a toaster that you use to push the bread down and start the toasting process. There is another one on the other end of the building placed higher up.

Very few people like this building design. The architects also worked on Lincoln Center and the UN, which I think were more successful, although I do not much love the UN building either.  I think the building is almost Brutalist with all of its overwhelming concrete. For a differing take, check out this article by someone who truly appreciates the building. He agrees with me that it has some Brutalist elements (which he likes) but also points out that when viewed directly, the concrete recedes somewhat and the glass dominates, giving the building a lighter touch.

I never much liked the balconies, which seem kind of pointless. It seems to me that the reason to have them would to create a sense of separation from the building and suspension in air when you step out into them, but being surrounded on top, bottom and both sides with concrete, any possibility of such an experience is lost. Apparently you are also no longer allowed to enter them.

The brick building in the background is Wien Hall, known as Johnson Hall when I was attending. The tent was up in preparation of graduation ceremonies and festivities when I took this in early May.

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