Institutions of Higher Learning in New York City Are Beginning Construction Programs to Add Millions of Square Feet in New Classrooms
A rendering of Cornell’s Roosevelt Island campus Kilograph
Institutions of higher learning in New York City are beginning construction programs to add millions of square feet in new classrooms, laboratories, performance halls and libraries over the next two decades at the cost of billions of dollars.
The academic building boom has been gearing up for years. The New York Building Congress, which promotes the construction industry, estimates that higher-education institutions spent $4.2 billion on construction over the last five years, but expects the figure will soar to nearly $10 billion over the next five years.
“Education is a big business in New York,” said Richard T. Anderson, the organization’s president.
New space has been completed recently in all five boroughs—from the $70 million Science Hall at Lehman College in the Bronx to a 454-bed dormitory at the College of Staten Island.
Several of the largest facilities are being built to focus on scientific research, which many credit to Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s push to make the city a technology and research hub. For example later in this decade, Harlem is slated to have two centers working on brain research located a few blocks apart—one at Columbia University’s future campus and another at the City College of New York.
Some of these projects are large and complex, requiring many years to go from blackboards to shovels in the ground. New York University’s long-range expansion planning began some seven years ago and the City Council approved the university’s proposal to add 1.9 million square feet around its core, near Washington Square Park, in 2012.
But NYU has yet to hire an architect and is still working on setting priorities for using the new space from West Third Street to Bleecker Street, between Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place. The university plans to complete the expansion in time for its bicentennial in 2031.
Here are updates on a few of the university projects where construction is well under way or will begin shortly.
Buildings under construction by the City College of New York CUNY
The City University of New York
The City University of New York is getting set to open the marquee project in its “Decade of Science” initiative, a $1.6 billion plan for new and renovated laboratory space announced in 2005 by the chancellor at the time, Matthew Goldstein.
A new research center, designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates and Flad Architects and named for Mr. Goldstein, will open in Harlem next fall. The $706 million complex includes two buildings, which will add nearly 400,000 square feet of lab space at the southern end of the CUNY campus, on 135th Street between Convent Avenue and St. Nicholas Terrace.
The research center will be housed in a five-story building on the east side of the plaza, and will be home to applied science researchers from throughout the CUNY system in fields such as neuroscience, structural biology and nanotechnology, which uses microscopic materials to create new devices. A facing four-story building will have research labs for City College faculty and students, with an underground passageway for researchers to move freely throughout the space.
Iris Weinshall, the vice chancellor for facilities planning, construction and management, said the university designed each of the buildings with a distinct look and feel after consulting with dozens of faculty members about the specifications.
Cornell University will break ground in January on a 12-acre site at the southern end of Roosevelt Island, just below the 59th Street Bridge, as work begins on constructing the new Cornell Tech campus. The construction comes three years after Mr. Bloomberg launched the Applied Sciences NYC competition, aimed at nothing less than making the city the “global capital of technological innovation,” as the mayor said recently.
The new school, which is already holding classes for the first 30 graduate students in temporary space at Google Inc.’s Manhattan office, is scheduled to move into its Roosevelt Island campus in the fall of 2017.
The first structure to rise will be a 150,000-square-foot academic building designed by architect Thom Mayne of the firm Morphosis.
Two more buildings are expected to open on the site in 2017: a 350-unit residential building for students, staff and faculty built in a partnership with Hudson Cos. and Related Cos., and a 200,000-square-foot office tower built with the developer Forest City Ratner. Cornell is calling this a “corporate co-location” building because it plans to lease space to tech companies.
Ultimately, the $2 billion project will add 2.1 million square feet of academic, residential and commercial space to Roosevelt Island over the next two decades. In addition to a 99-year lease for the Roosevelt Island site, the city also is providing $100 million toward construction costs.
Fordham University is building a law school and student residence on its Lincoln Center campus. Columbia University
The academic construction boom encompasses more than science and technology. For the fall term, Fordham University is moving into a new home for its law school at its Lincoln Center campus. The $250 million, 22-story glass edifice at 150 W. 62nd St. towers over the squat, 52-year-old law school building next door, which opened before the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts across the street.
The school will occupy roughly half of the new 470,000-square-foot structure designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. An undergraduate residence hall for 430 students on the upper floors will have spectacular views of Lincoln Center Plaza.
The construction is the first stage of a $1.6 billion plan to remake Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus brick by brick over the next two decades. The campus was designed with a student body of 3,500 in mind. Some 8,000 students pack the halls today, about a quarter of them undergraduates.
Brian Byrne, Fordham’s vice president for the Lincoln Center campus, expects undergraduate enrollment to increase once the new residential hall opens this fall. He said the university plans to add more living quarters to meet “huge pent-up demand” from students who want to reside near the campus.
The current 160,000-square-foot law school building on 62nd Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, will house various academic programs as needed while construction continues on nearly 2 million square feet of additional space for the undergraduate college and the graduate schools for business, social services and education on the campus. The old building is slated for demolition around 2030, near the completion of the campus overhaul set for 2032.
The Jerome L. Greene Science Center, going up at Columbia University’s new campus in West Harlem Fordham University
An aging collection of auto body shops, storage centers and warehouses was recently cleared at Broadway and 125th Street for part of a modern extension of Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus.
The overall project is expected to cost $6.8 billion and take at least 20 years to complete. It will occupy a 17-acre site stretching between Broadway and 12th Avenue, bordered by the intersection of 125th Street and 129th streets on the south and extending up to 133rd Street.
Philip Pitruzzello, the university’s vice president in charge of the development, whose office is in a former Studebaker car showroom on the future campus site, said there was simply no room left to build on the main campus in Morningside Heights.
The neighborhood transformation will begin to take shape by the fall of 2016, when the Jerome L. Greene Science Center and the Lenfest Center for the Arts, two vertical glass towers designed by Renzo Piano, are set to open next to a leafy new plaza. The nine-story, 450,000-square-foot science center will include the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. The eight-story, 50,000-square-foot arts center will provide a showcase for the creative work of Columbia artists in film, theater, visual arts and writing.
Two future buildings designed by the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro for the Columbia Business School are scheduled to follow by the end of the decade. An academic conference center, complete with a 400-seat auditorium, and another landscaped square are planned to round out the future campus below 131st Street.
Construction of the northern part of the campus won’t be completed until an Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus terminal can be relocated, and the university is still setting priorities for this space. The master plan retains some flexibility, with many of the future structures approved for multiple uses, such as residential or recreational purposes.
“The decisions will be driven by academic need and funding,” Mr. Pitruzzello said.
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