Northwest Corner Building Columbia University, New York Higher Education, Architect

Northwest Corner Building, Columbia University, New York

Manhattan Higher Education Project, NY, design by José Rafael Moneo, architect

Dec 20, 2010

Northwest Corner Building Columbia University

Interdisciplinary Research Building Opens at Columbia Linking Academic Fields, Campus and Community

Northwest Corner Building constructed above existing gym completes perimeter and provides new public portal to historic Morningside Heights campus

NEW YORK, December, 2010 — Columbia University marks the official opening of its new 188,000 square foot Northwest Corner Building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect José Rafael Moneo, in collaboration with the architects at Madrid’s Moneo Brock Studio and New York’s Davis Brody Bond Aedas.

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“What Rafael Moneo has created here is literally a bridge — both across areas of scientific knowledge and from our history to our future at Columbia,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “As the final addition to the original perimeter of our Morningside Heights campus, this building completes one of the greatest academic settings in the world, but it also performs an important task of opening up a new, transparent pathway between campus and community on a street corner where there had long been only a blank wall. This is an important milestone in Columbia’s history more than a century after our move from midtown to Upper Manhattan.”

The innovative structure houses cutting-edge labs gathering together researchers in biology, chemistry, physics and engineering, as well as a science library, lecture hall and café, completing the outlines of the university’s original Morningside Heights campus plan by McKim, Mead and White. Built as a bridge above the existing Levien Gym in the Dodge Physical Fitness Center and supported by a 129-foot long, three-dimensional truss, the 14-story facility accommodates seven double-height lab floors designed to mitigate vibration and allow for flexible layouts as new scientific research priorities evolve.

“The connections to the neighboring buildings guarantee activity and life, reinforcing the interdisciplinary program needed in state-of-the-art research,” Rafael Moneo said about his first building in New York City. “It has been very exciting to create a building in New York that uses this unique site to draw people together in new ways while respecting Columbia’s great campus architecture. I hope this building will become part of the fabric both of the university and of the city.”

Elevated, enclosed bridges to adjacent science facilities in Pupin Hall and Chandler Hall will encourage more interaction among faculty and students from the university’s science and engineering departments. Interior lobbies flow from the sidewalk level at 120th Street and Broadway to a publicly accessible, 1,400 square foot café above, and are connected visually and spatially to the campus-level lobby.

This adds a bright new public portal between the original, more cloistered campus design of the late 19th and early 20th century at a dark corner previously marked by an iron gate and the masonry wall of the gym. The facility also includes a 164-seat lecture hall and a two-story integrated science library. A new exterior stairway connects the sidewalk at 120th Street to Pupin Plaza, permitting direct access to campus.

When fully occupied, the building will provide research, teaching and study space for a community of faculty members and students working in 21 different labs. Among the first areas of research in the labs are nanotechnology, single molecule physics and chemistry, biophysics, and biochemistry and synthetic chemistry.

The lab dedicated to biophysics and imaging will be conducting research that could lead to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of epilepsy. In the lab dedicated to biochemistry and synthetic chemistry, researchers will be using state-of-the-art tools to better understand the mechanisms of cell death involved in cancer and neurodegeneration.

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A unitized glass and aluminum panel curtain wall on the west, Broadway-facing façade, mirrors the building’s structural steel system. The elevation expresses cross bracing locations of the three-dimensional truss structure on the exterior skin. The west façade wraps the laboratories and is composed of diagonally louvered opaque panels and horizontally louvered vision strip panels. The east, campus-facing façade, is a clear glass volume showcasing the activities of faculty and students within. Another clear glass volume at the top of the structure acts as a beacon toward the neighborhood and Columbia’s new Manhattanville campus.

Mark Wigley, dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, said that the new building achieves an innovative solution to a unique set of structural and design challenges of the site. “Like any great professor, what Rafael Moneo recognized is that universities are fundamentally a conversation — between people in and outside of the institution and between past and present — aimed at solving novel questions in new and untried ways. This building honors what was created by McKim, but in both materials and mission is a reflection of the needs and values of our own time.”

Turner Construction served as general contractor for the complex project. The integrated design process and materials used for the building aim to achieve a LEED® Silver rating, and design elements that meet Labs21® criteria, a voluntary partnership program dedicated to improving the environmental performance of U.S. laboratories.

About Columbia University
A leading academic and research university, Columbia University continually seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time. Columbia’s extensive public service initiatives, cultural collaborations, and community partnerships help define the university’s underlying values and mission to educate students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

About Rafael Moneo
Writing and teaching have always formed an important and complementary part of Rafael Moneo’s architectural practice. A professor in the schools of architecture in Madrid and Barcelona, he was chairman of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design between 1985 and 1990 and is currently the José Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture there. Among his books are Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies in the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects (MIT Press and ACTAR, 2005) and Rafael Moneo: Remarks on 21 Works (Monacelli Press and Gustavo Gili, 2010).

The firm of Rafael Moneo, located in Madrid, has completed a broad range of work in Spain and elsewhere. Notable among the works in Spain are the National Museum of Roman Art (1985), the Atocha Railway Station (1992), the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation in Palma de Mallorca (1993), the Kursaal Auditorium and Congress Center in San Sebastián, the L’Auditori Concert Hall and Cultural Center in Barcelona the annex for the Town Hall of Murcia (1999), the Extension to the Prado Museum in Madrid (2007), the University of Deusto Library in Bilbao (2009).

Outside of Spain notable works include the Davis Museum and Cultural Center for Wellesley College (1993), the Museums of Modern Art and Architecture in Stockholm (1998), the Audrey Jones Beck Building for The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas (2000), Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles (2002) Laboratory for Interface and Engineering for Harvard University, the Chace Student Center for the Rhode Island School of Design (2008) and a laboratory for Novartis Campus in Basel and the Souks in Beirut (2009).

Rafael Moneo has been awarded numerous distinctions including the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1996 and the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2003.

About Moneo Brock Studio
Moneo Brock Studio was formed in 1993 by Belén Moneo and Jeff Brock in New York City. They worked there for a decade on several projects of diverse character until 2002 when the firm moved to Madrid, Spain, where it remains today. It has maintained the character of a design studio and small architecture firm, working on few projects at any one time so as to dedicate their full attention to the design problems.

Moneo Brock has also collaborated with Rafael Moneo on a number of large projects as design and executive architects. Among the firm’s most significant works are the Tiberius Thermal Baths building in Panticosa, Spain, the New Glass Pavilion in Cuenca, Spain, and the Service Station in San Agustín de Guadalix, Spain, as well as numerous private home and housing projects. They have also designed furniture and furnishing systems, product packaging and a line of bathroom fixtures for Roca.

About Davis Brody Bond Aedas
Headquartered in New York with offices in Washington, DC, Seattle, and São Paulo, Davis Brody Bond Aedas is among the nation’s leading architectural design firms. Known for innovative solutions to complex design challenges, the firm’s work encompasses civic and cultural buildings, university facilities, housing, corporate offices, and industrial buildings.

Davis Brody Bond Aedas is the associate architect for Columbia’s Manhattanville campus, including its Jerome L. Greene Science Center, and Princeton University’s Neuroscience and Psychology Complex — also in collaboration with Rafael Moneo. The firm is responsible for the design of numerous academic lab and research facilities including Columbia University’s Audobon Technology & Research Park, Northwestern University’s Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, New York Structural Biology Center and Harvard University’s Institutes of Medicine.

Northwest Corner Building Columbia University images / information received Dec 2010

Another Columbia University Campus design:

Columbia University Campus Plan

Design: Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), architects
in collaboration with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, urban designers (New York)

2002-in progress
New York, USA

Columbia University Manhattan
Client: Columbia University

Columbia University Campus Plan : Summary

Master plan for the extension of Columbia University in the Harlem district, New York. A project where architecture meets city-planning and sociology, reinventing the role of campus and opening its doors to the city. The Columbia University campus has been located since 1896 on Morningside Heights, the hill next to Harlem.

Columbia University Campus New York

Columbia University Campus architects : Renzo Piano

Columbia University Campus joint architects : Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Davis Brody Bond Architects and Planners

Location: Columbia University, New York City, USA

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