New York University has enclosed the atrium of the school's main academic library with randomly perforated aluminum screens, in an effort to curb suicides while completely mindfucking the NYU population, reports The New York Times' City Room.
Since 2003, three students jumped to their deaths in the Bobst Library: a junior and a freshman in 2003, and another junior in 2009. Following the second death, the school installed eight foot high clear barriers along the balconies.
When it came time to [better] suicide-proof the atrium, said Andrew T. Repoli, a director of construction management at NYU, the designers had one concern (apart from better suicide-proofing the atrium): giving the renovations the modern look "of today".
"The whole idea was to come up with something sympathetic to the Philip Johnson design while being in and of today. We didn't want something that would have been hip 40 years ago."
Nothing is worse than an architectural aesthetic that, while the height of modernity at the time of its construction, feels dated and stale just a few years down the line. Accordingly, designers took inspiration from one of the most elegant and beautiful motifs of the modern era: clunky digital pixels.
City Room notes that the pixels "can also look like showers of gold confetti, in keeping with the late-'60s aesthetic of the building." The 1960s, a decade which took many of its design cues from the AMC workplace drama Mad Men, was famous for the showers of gold confetti that fell like acid rain any time an important man stepped out-of-doors.
Repoli told City Room that the aluminum barrier "is almost like a beautiful piece of lace that's been stretched taut against the balcony slabs," though a more accurate description would be that the barrier "is almost like a digital image of a beautiful piece of lace that's been magnified to pixels that's been stretched taut against the balcony slabs."
The blog reports that NYU stipulated the new barriers be "transparent enough to allow daylight into the atrium and permeable enough to permit ventilation and, in emergencies, smoke purging." So, really, aluminum styled to look like digital pixels was the only choice.