Adelphi University, Swirbul Library

Julius Shulman photography archive, 1936-1997.

Adelphi University, Swirbul Library


The library’s form and materials read straight out of Neutra’s standard palette for public (and sometimes private) buildings. This long, two-story modular structure of reinforced concrete, brick, aluminum, glass and aluminum vertical louvers is surrounded by landscaping and a pedestrian bridge over a moat, reminiscent of Arne Jacobsen’s design for the entry of St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. The single-story entrance is pulled away from the building, ending a brick wall that angles out to welcome readers who must walk across a bridge over a right-angled pool that hugs the southeast corner of the building. The sense of procession continues inside where an elliptical staircase with an almost voluptuous curve leads to book stacks above. It is surrounded by interior greenery and flanked by full-height mirrors which has the effect of doubling the staircase and rendering it almost Baroque in character. The feeling of openness to the outdoors is apparent everywhere. To great effect, Neutra combines his striking “cantilever fixture,” as he called the disc-like form mounted on columns, throwing direct light down and indirectly illuminating the ceiling. Neutra and Alexander had been commissioned to design a master plan and also did a building for the Business Education department.

Project Detail

Year Built


Project Architect

Richard Neutra with John Shober Burrows


Adelphi University


Garden City, Long Island, NY