The Greenwich Village is changing in a BIG way. On the busy corner of 14th Street and 5th Avenue, The New School’s enormous $350 million, 364,000-square-foot, 16-story University Center is taking shape. Though its brown metallic facade attempts to blend with the surrounding brick architecture of the village, it’s hard to ignore the building’s very peculiar design. The University Center has been shrouded in a bit of mystery for me, and I wanted to know what was really going on underneath all that scaffolding. Luckily I was able to snag a spot in one of the weekly tours that Tishman Construction has been offering for all New School students, faculty, and staff—and now I’m here to reveal some of the building’s coolest features!
The first stop of the tour was to see a unit of the 611-bed residence hall that will occupy the 8th to 16th floors. After seeing the room, I wish I was still in housing! Not only is the dorm located conveniently on campus (how awesome would that be to just hop on the elevator to get to class?!), it also offers some pretty great views of the village. The brand new kitchens are ultra sleek and modern, and the bathrooms even use custom-made marble in the showers! So luxurious! The new dorm features 146 suites, a laundry room, fitness center, student lounges, study spaces, art studios, practice rooms, and bicycle storage. The dorm will be moving in its first residents this fall, while the remainder of the academic spaces will open in January 2014.
The directly below the dorms, a garden terrace designed by Mathews Nieslen Landscape Architects will wrap around the upper portion of the building. With the University Center’s core values rooted in sustainability (it’s projected to be LEED Gold Certified!), the green roof will collect rainwater for use within the building. Although the terrace won’t be accessible, it’ll provide a beautiful, refreshing backdrop of much needed greenery. The large windows of the new library and cafe on the 7th floor will look directly into the garden. Speaking of windows, the University Center has worried some locals about the seemingly topsy-turvy construction of the facade. But don’t fret! The angular, uneven exterior was intentional. The Muntz metal shell was designed to thwart off pesky pigeons, repel rain, and bounce light into the building. Genius!
Matching the quirky exterior are the even more whimsical stairs that can be found throughout the building. Three sets of stairs, which seem to be reminiscent of everybody’s favorite M.C. Escher drawings (very appropriate for a design school, no?), line the edge of each side of the building and can be seen from the street through enormous glass windows. In its current state of construction, they seemed to look like a tangled mess, but our guide assured us that the stairs were designed to promote openness and flow, while accommodating the heavy foot traffic between classes.
Some of the building’s other assets include the new 800-seat auditorium with that will feature a state-of-the-art stage for theatrical performances and guest speakers. It’ll even be able to transform into a runway for fashion shows! Movable walls can convert the space into two smaller lecture halls, and adjustable seating will allow the auditorium to accomodate more people. In addition to the library cafe, the University Center will also have an event cafe at the base of the auditorium, as well as a larger cafeteria on the 2nd floor. But these aren’t the features I’m most excited about.
For those of you have visited the main Parsons building during peak class time, you’ll understand why I think this is the new building’s best feature…
SCORREEEE! The University Center will feature eight spacious elevators (three for dorm use only, five for the academic portion of the building). Unfortunately, this also means I won’t be able to use the “crowded elevator” excuse if I’m late for class
For more information about the new building, check out it’s page on The New School’s website.