Pratt faculty, staff, students, and alumni recently gathered in the basement level of Higgins Hall to celebrate the unveiling of the new Pratt School of Architecture Reading Room, which houses the William “Bill” Menking Book Collection.

President Frances Bronet gave opening remarks at the event on December 11, while School of Architecture Dean Quilian Riano spoke about the development of the room and its collection, which includes more than 2,000 volumes spanning architecture, urbanism, and design. Diana Darling, co-founder of The Architect’s Newspaper with Menking, her husband, shared stories of Menking’s love of the built and natural environment, travel, and connecting people.

Diana Darling in the Pratt School of Architecture Reading Room
Diana Darling in the Pratt School of Architecture Reading Room
School of Architecture Dean Quilian Riano in the Pratt School of Architecture Reading Room
School of Architecture Dean Quilian Riano in the Pratt School of Architecture Reading Room

For three decades beginning in 1990, Menking taught in the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, where he led a history survey course. He also taught in the Pratt Berlin Studio for several years and joined Pratt Institute’s Board of Trustees as a faculty member. Prior to his death in 2020, plans had been made for a reading room at Pratt to house his collection and his will stipulated the donation of books.

“We are excited to have this asset open for the school and happy that Bill Menking’s legacy lives on within our community,” said Quilian Riano, dean of the School of Architecture. “We will cherish this gift and I am sure we will see the inspiration in studios and seminars for years to come.”

The opening of the space drew a large crowd from the Pratt community. Attendees included Gary Hattem, chair of the Board of Trustees, Michael Pratt, vice chair of the Board of Trustees, and Anne van Ingen, member of the Board of Trustees. The Architect’s Newspaper covered the opening.

Opening event for the Pratt School of Architecture Reading Room
Opening event for the Pratt School of Architecture Reading Room

Pratt’s Communications and Marketing Creative Services team designed the room, taking inspiration from typography within the William “Bill” Menking Book Collection. Large-scale letterforms in bold colors wind their way across columns, locker gates, and walls both inside and outside of the space.

“This was a unique opportunity for our team to collaborate with the School of Architecture and the Planning, Design + Construction team in Facilities,” said David Frisco, director of creative services in Communications and Marketing. “Our design is a combination of typographic and physical elements that together celebrates the Menking Collection and creates a welcoming, comfortable space to enjoy the books.”

Pratt School of Architecture Reading Room
Pratt School of Architecture Reading Room

The Pratt School of Architecture Reading Room functions as a space for Pratt students, faculty, and staff to read, study, and relax, as well as access the volumes in the William “Bill” Menking Book Collection, which are housed within lockers, and explore this rich new campus resource.

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