Design

Designed to Be Accessible, Open and Transparent

Solving the world’s greatest challenges demands spaces that convene diverse communities and cut across traditional academic boundaries.

The new Manhattanville campus brings to life design principles from a master plan by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill that emphasizes accessibility and openness, gradually creating a new kind of urban academic campus that is woven into the fabric of the surrounding community.

Small square looking Northwest on Manhattanville campus

Transparent and Inviting

Through form and function, the ground floor of buildings brings people to and through them. University programming begins at least a floor above street level, creating a ground floor “Urban Layer” filled with retail, restaurants, community programming and more. The transparent, glass façade makes the Urban Layer visually and physically accessible to the greater community.

Design that Honors the Past ... and Sustains the Future

New buildings are being designed in consideration of the distinctive architectural features of the historic Riverside Drive and Broadway viaducts. The University will continue to promote responsible environmental stewardship in construction and energy efficiency in new and renovated buildings.

Aerial of space that opens up to the streets
A rendering illustrating open green spaces and tree-lined streets.

Open Campus, Open Streets

The lack of gates on the new campus maintains its functional and visual openness. When construction for the new campus is completed, all streets of the existing street grid will remain public and open for vehicular traffic. Revitalized streets enhance the pedestrian experience with widened sidewalks, trees, street lighting and street furnishings—creating a more inviting path to the Columbia-supported West Harlem Piers waterfront park. 

Efficiency Below Ground

Contiguous underground space providing services for loading, energy and utilities across the new campus avoids redundancy at each building and allows the accessibility and transparency of the street-level Urban Layer to be achieved. 

Flexible Research Facilities and a Mix of Academic Uses

Academic buildings will house classrooms and lecture halls, cultural and interaction spaces, conference and performance centers, research and administrative functions and more. The kinds of academic inquiry carried out in these buildings will include a range of endeavors, from laboratory research to scholarly investigations involving language, history, culture and the arts—the kind of cutting-edge research that makes Columbia one of the top global universities.

Renzo Piano, Principal and Founder of Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Manhattanvile Campus Graphic Cut in Half