Posts tagged with "Manhattanville":

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Renzo Piano’s Jerome L. Greene Science Center of Columbia University edges closer to completion

Columbia University's building surge at its new Manhattanville campus appears to be on course as Renzo Piano's Jerome L. Greene Science Center edges closer to completion. The Italian architect with his firm, Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), started design on the building in 2010. Piano was on hand to give a talk at the building yesterday, while Antoine Chaaya, a partner at RPBW, showed The Architect's Newspaper (AN) around. Despite iterating his distaste and "suspicion" for metaphors, Piano described the Jerome L. Greene Science Center as a "palace" and a "factory." "If it is a palace, then it is a palace of light—it is not obscure," he said at the event. "And if it is a factory ... then it is a factory exploring the secret of the mind, the brain, and behavior." Rising to nine stories, the 450,000-square-foot building will be home to Columbia's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. Approximately 900 scientists will occupy the facility making use of the flexible teaching facilities available. The ground floor, meanwhile, delves more into the public realm. In what Piano describes as an "urban layer," the design gives the public full access to the street level concourse. Here visitors will find a community Wellness Center (offering blood pressure and cholesterol screenings as well mental health and stroke prevention training), an Education Lab (offering public programs on brain science), shops, and restaurants. These public areas are accessible via a main walkway that allows volumetric divisions from within the building's massing to be seen. Also along this wide-birthing corridor, interactive installations—part of what they've called "The Synapse"—will showcase the research that is being carried out within the building. Amid community opposition to Columbia moving to the site, Piano said, “a well-crafted building is a good thing to do, it's a promise of something good. It's not just aesthetics—making things well is more than aesthetics—it's ethics.” Transparency and legibility then were important aspects of RPBW's design. Zoning for the "Special Manhattanville Mixed Use District", which RPBW worked with, Skidmore Owings & Merrill,  the city and Vice President of Manhattanville Development at Columbia University Marcelo Velez to develop, meant that public accessibility was a priority at ground level. "The transparency requirement for the district [stipulated] that at least 70 percent of the surface of the street wall (i.e. ground wall/urban layer) required glazing and at least 50 percent of the surface of the street wall requires the glazing to be transparent," Velez told AN. "This was so the public can be reassured that nothing sinister is going on within the scientific research building and act as a form of community engagement." The result of this saw RPBW's design, from a tectonic angle, respond to its environment in multiple ways. On all four sides, the facade sees extensive glass fenestration encased by an arrangement of exterior bracing and steel beams that run up through the structure. In doing so, the building makes a nod to the tectonics of the subway line (#1 train) and Riverside Drive highway that can be seen on the east and west sides respectively, while providing vistas all around and allowing the public to peer into the center. However, while the subway line and highway can be seen, they cannot be heard. The curtain walling system, found on the northeast and southeast sides, uses a 16-inch-thick cavity between layers of glass the exterior of which has been coated to minimize solar gain. Inside, blinds—part of an automated building management system—can be dropped down to counter glare issues. Echoing Piano's "factory" sentiment, Antoine Chaaya described the building as a "machine to show science" as he pointed out a silent #1 train passing by. The sense of openness is conveyed inside, too. Interior spaces are segmented by floor to ceiling windows (that offer blinds for privacy if needed). In these working, teaching, and meeting areas, indirect light (through uplighting in some cases) is used to illuminate the spaces, with direct daylight only being used for circulatory areas. Pedestrian interconnectivity was also a key area of focus said Velez, who worked on the master planning of the site. The Jerome L. Greene Science Center is due to open in spring next year, as is RPBW's Lenfest Center for the Arts which sits next to it. Other builds are also in the pipeline in the vicinity. The Columbia Business School—two buildings, one from Diller Scofidio + Renfro and the other from FXFowle—are set to open in 2021. Three others: The University Forum and Academic Conference Center; The Studebaker Building, and The Nash Building should be open by 2018. Saying how trees will line the pathways and walkways in the area, Velez thinks that the design parameters (such as zoning) and continuous pedestrian scale will result in the creation of a cohesive architectural language for the site.
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Major Gift to Columbia Will Help Jumpstart Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Business School Plans

In May, Ronald O. Perelman, Chairman and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings and a member of the School’s Board of Overseers, pledged a milestone donation of $100 million to Columbia Business School, which could help jumpstart the construction of two new facilities to be built on Columbia’s Manhattanville campus. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the structures will incorporate zig-zag cutaway facades akin to the design seen in Columbia’s Washington Heights medial center plans, also by the firm. The business school buildings will provide a total of 450,000 square feet of space, some of which will be allotted to the increasingly popular collaborative gathering spaces that university campuses have come to know well. The new buildings are designed to accommodate the fast-paced, technologically advanced, and vastly communal character of 21st-century business and business education with multifunctional areas meant to cultivate a sense of community for students, faculty, and alumni. Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard has disclosed that the donation will permit the School to reach a new chapter in its extension into Manhattanville, located immediately north of the University’s current Morningside Campus. The planned Manhattanville campus is a $6.3 billion project with projected completion set for sometime within the next couple decades. Perelman’s donation marks the $455 million mark of a $600 million funding goal. In appreciation of Perelman’s generosity, one of the two future buildings expected to open within the next decade will be named the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Business Innovation. Columbia will name the other of the two new facilities The Henry R. Kravis Building in honor of Henry Kravis’s 2010 gift.
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Renzo Piano’s Brain Behavior Institute Breaks Ground at Columbia’s Manhattanville Campus

Construction of Columbia University’s 17-acre Manhattanville campus is now underway in northern Manhattan. The Wall Street Journal reported that work has already started on the foundation of the Jerome L. Greene Science Center that will house the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. This 450,000-square-foot glass building, designed by Renzo Piano, is the first of 15 new buildings to be built on the campus and is slated to open in 2016. Future plans for Columbia’s expansion include new homes for the Columbia Business School and the Lenfest Center for the Arts. Developer and Boston Properties CEO Mortimer Zuckerman has pledged $200 million to the endowment of the institute. The tab for the entire campus should run up to $6.8 billion.
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Quick Clicks> Piano, Plazas, Babbling, Budget Cuts

Manhattanville's Piano. While tallying who is the biggest landlord in New York (it's still the church by a hair), The Observer uncovered a few new views of Renzo Piano's Jerome L. Green Science Center at Columbia's Manhattanville campus, seen here next to a train viaduct. Pedestrianizing New York. The remaking of New York's public spaces continues its forward march. Brownstoner has details on the planned pedestrian plaza on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and StreetsBlog highlights DOT's plans to create a permanent block-long Plaza de las Americas in Washington Heights. Archi-babble. Witold Rybczynski talkes issue with architecture's professional jargon in Slate, including a beginner's guide to commonly used words from assemblage to gesamtkunstwerk. What's your favorite word from the language of architecture? Subway Squeeze. We're not talking about your crowded commute, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to trim $100 million from transit. Transportation Nation and StreetsBlog have the details and implications for getting around New York.
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Last Columbia Hold Out Hung Out to Dry by Top Court

Nick Sprayregen, the last remaining holdout in the way of Columbia University's Manhattanville expansion project, has just had his fortunes reversed—quite literally, as now it appears the school has a good chance of taking Sprayregen's land through eminent domain to make way for its new 17-acre campus. Last December, Sprayregen won an unexpected court decision, which was overturned today in a unanimous decision by the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court. The Observer astutely points out that even justice Robert Smith, the lone dissenter in the major Atlantic Yards case, sided with the majority this time out. At issue was whether the Empire State Development Corporation has the right to take private land and convey it to Columbia, which the lower appellate court found it did not, as in the judges view there was no clear public purpose. In today's reversal, the justices found that the agency made a clear and compelling case for the project, and it was not the place of the judiciary to overule them:
ESDC considered a wide range of factors including the physical, economic, engineering and environmental conditions at the Project site. Its decision was not based on any one of these factors, but on the Project site conditions as a whole. Accordingly, since there is record support — "extensively documented photographically and otherwise on a lot-by-lot basis" (id. at 526) — for ESDC's determination that the Project site was blighted, the Appellate Division plurality erred when it substituted its view for that of the legislatively designated agency.
Sprayregen has vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court, whose ruling five years ago on the notorious Kelo case largely set the stage for such private-to-private-for-public-transfers as this. It remains anyone's guess how they might hold this time around. (Or even if they will.) Meanwhile, construction on the southern part of campus continues apace.
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Manhattanville Ho!

Last month's court victory for opponents of Columbia University's new campus in Manhattanville was not necessarily a defeat for the school's planned 17-acre expansion, and not only because appeals remain. With roughly 94 percent of the area under its control, Columbia has said it plans to continue work on the campus, despite its insistence that it cannot be completed as planned without full control of all buildings therein. Last night, Columbia officials outlined their current approach to Manhattanville for the first time since the ruling at a hearing in Harlem on the future of eminent domain in the state (more on that in Issue 1!). After an hour-and-a-half of grilling the ESDC—the state agency responsible for pursuing eminent domain on Columbia's behalf— State Senator Bill Perkins, in whose district the project lies, set his sights on Marcello Valez, the head of construction for the Manhattanville project at Columbia, and Maxine Griffith, a former planner who is now in-charge of government affairs at the school. The pair were evasive on many issues surrounding eminent domain and the court case—technically, they are responsible for neither—but they outlined their utility, demolition, and construction work that has been ongoing for a few months now. Most notably, 3229 Broadway continues to come down. It was the former building of Ann Whitman, one of the last remaining hold outs who eventually sold to the school in 2008 because she said she could no longer afford to fight. Her plot and an adjacent gas station will soon become home to the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, a major neuroscience project that, at the corner of 129th Street and Broadway, is supposed to be one of the new campus' centerpieces. Work will also soon commence on an art building also on the block and, perhaps most importantly, the entry to the subterranean "bathtub," that, World Trade Center-style, will house most of the campus' infrastructure. The bathtub remains a crucial piece of the Manhattanville puzzle because it is part of the justification for seizing the remaining properties. "If the basement can't connect, it would be difficult to see how the project could move forward," Griffith said, arguing the campus would be much less pedestrian friendly and community accessible with trucks idling on the street and HVAC spewing into the air. (A member of the Coalition to Preserve Community, a local opposition group, argued it was all a planning ruse, with the school fully able to build around the holdouts.) As for timing, Valez said that, despite the court case, everything remains on time, which is part of the reason construction work must continue on those properties controlled by Columbia. (That and the donors are old and would like to see something built while they're still alive, Griffith admitted somewhat cheekily.) As for architecture, Renzo Piano is nearing completion on final designs for these two buildings according to Victoria Benitez, a university spokesperson in attendance last night, though no renderings are yet available. She declined to say whether the Genoan architect would be designing the rest of the buildings on campus or whether some might go to other firms.
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Willets Wonderings

It appears the city's plan to trifurcate development out at Willets Point has been a smashing success, as the Economic Development Corporation announced on Friday that 29 developers from across the country have expressed interest in the first phase of the project, an 18-acre swath of land on the western section of the 62-acre Iron Triangle that contains the densest mix of uses. “The quantity and quality of these responses are strong indicators that the development community has confidence in the successful redevelopment of Willets Point despite current economic conditions,” Seth Pinsky, president of EDC, said in a release. An RFP is expected sometime in 2010 for a selection of those 29 respondents. After that, the next hurdle is finishing land acquisition, which stands at 75 percent of the phase one area controlled by the city. If need be, the city has not ruled out acquiring what's left through eminent domain, a specter that has cast a long shadow over the area's redevelopment, though one that could be sunsetting. Following a court ruling that the state could not seize land in the Manhattanville section of Harlem so that Columbia could build a new campus there, Atlantic Yards opponents are hustling to have their ultimately unsuccessful case reheard, a last-ditch effort to impede the sale of Forest City Ratner's bonds. Whether or not they succeed, all this eminent domain tumult—combined with the recent collapse of plans for the Mother of Them All in New London, Connecticut—could nudge New York over the edge, taking it off the list of a handful of states that have yet to enact eminent domain reform since the Kelo decision four years ago. State Senator Bill Perkins certainly thinks so, calling for the governor to live up to his previous promises of a moratorium on eminent domain in the state. How could this all pay out in Flushing, Queens? David Lombino, a spokesperson for EDC, emphasized the agency's strong track record on reaching deals with business owners in the area, despite the continued intransigence of some. "The response from the private sector is encouraging," he said. Should it come down to eminent domain, but eminent domain is no longer there? EDC, while proffering hypothetical projects, does not respond to hypothetical questions.
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Eminent Decision at Coney?

When the City Planning Commission barely altered the city's plans--plans that remain diametrically opposed to those of chief landholder Joe Sitt--we couldn't help but wonder whether the Bloomberg administration would some how grossly undermine its plan, or let it fall on the sword at the City Council, at least part of which is firmly under the sway of Sitt. Thus far, the Bloomberg administration has yet to allow a single one of its nearly 100 rezoning fail at the council, often crafting 11th hour deals. Would, could things be different this time? Well, following a hearing at City Hall yesterday, the Daily News reports that the city's rezoning proposal has indeed run up against council opposition, but not for the reasons we would have thought--or hoped. No, it has nothing to do with the lack of vision for either Sitt or the city's plans. The council's opposition stems from an aversion to eminent domain, which the city's economic development czar suggested could be on the table should Sitt not sell, something he has currently refused to negotiate on, despite repeated attempts by the city. But that's not what struck us as wrong. No, the problem is--shocking, we know--that many of these council members now in opposition to eminent domain once supported it, in a way. Look no further than Manhattanville or Willets Point, where Columbia and the city, respectively, have used the threat of eminent domain to push around small businesses and landholders. Clearly, it's not the principal that matters to the council but the size of one's pocketbook.