Adelphi University, Swirbul Library

Julius Shulman photography archive, 1936-1997.

Adelphi University, Swirbul Library


Adelphi University’s Swirbul Library resembles many of Neutra’s other designs for public spaces, particularly in its use of form and materials. The long, two-story structure is composed of reinforced concrete, brick, aluminum, and glass and aluminum vertical louvers. Around the building, landscaping and a pedestrian bridge over a moat recall Arne Jacobsen’s design for the entry of St. Catherine’s College at Oxford. Here, the single-story entrance welcomes visitors with an angled brick wall. The architecture determines the visitor’s movements inside as well: an elliptical staircase guides the visitor upstairs towards the book stacks. Mirrors alongside the staircase double its voluptuous shape, which lends a Baroque character to the space. For illumination, Neutra designed what he called a “cantilever fixture,” in which he placed a disc-like form atop columns which indirectly illuminates the ceiling. With these design features and others, Neutra established an open interior with a connection to nature and the outdoors. In addition to the library, Neutra and Alexander were commissioned to design a master plan and the Business Education department building at Adelphi University.

Adapted from Neutra – Complete Works by Barbara Lamprecht (Taschen, 2000), p. 424.

Project Detail

Year Built


Project Architect

Richard Neutra with John Shober Burrows


Adelphi University


Garden City, Long Island, NY