Rockefeller University Proposes New Buildings, Platform Over FDR Drive

Proposed Rockefeller University platform

In this artist’s rendering, Rockefeller University’s proposed platform stretches over four blocks of FDR Drive. images courtesy: Rafael Viñoly Architects

In an effort to expand its facilities without depriving residents of a view of the East River, Rockefeller University is proposing a series of changes to its Upper East Side campus.

Founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1901 to promote medical research, the school plans to construct three new buildings. As the university has done in the past, two of those buildings, a one-story conference center and a two-story research building boasting a green roof and rooftop pavilions, would be constructed atop a platform over FDR Drive. Extending approximately four blocks from East 64th Street to East 68th Street, the new platform would join two other Rockefeller buildings straddling the highway, stretching from 62nd Street to 64th Street. The third new building, an athletic center for students, would replace a faculty parking lot in the northwest corner of campus.

Civitas, an advocacy group focusing on development in the Upper East Side has some concerns that the buildings, in addition to other proposed medical facilities, could affect parks along the East River. Speaking with a reporter from Crain’s, Executive Director Hunter Armstrong said he’s particularly concerned about the East River Esplanade.

“We’re trying to rescue the esplanade,” Armstrong said, “so we have to be careful of the impacts of these cantilevers on our park.”

As the university still requires approval for the project, neither a completion date or price estimate have been determined, though school officials have chosen architect Rafael Viñoly to head the project.

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