Columbia University Previews Opening of the Lenfest Center for the Arts on its New Manhattanville Campus
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus will come to life this spring with the opening of its first two completed buildings, the Lenfest Center for the Arts and the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, both designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. These highly multidisciplinary facilities, conceived to serve the university community, the neighboring residents of West Harlem and the city at large, are:
- the 60,000-square-foot Lenfest Center for the Arts, Columbia’s first facility for presentations, exhibitions and events by the distinguished School of the Arts, and for a publicly accessible home for the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery.
- and the 450,000-square-foot Jerome L. Greene Science Center, a neuroscience research facility housing the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and community-oriented services, including a brain science Education Lab.
“When we committed ourselves to the Manhattanville campus in West Harlem, we knew it would be essential for Columbia to use this opportunity to build exceptional spaces for our mission of teaching, research and creativity that make a difference in the world—and to do so in a way that benefits our city and community,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “From the outset, it seemed essential to me that the arts be a key part of this effort to bring together different kinds of people, ideas and creativity in a shared space. Harlem is an iconic cultural center that we should support and be a part of. And the sheer quality of the work at our School of the Arts—and in the Wallach Gallery—deserves a world-class platform.”
In October 2016, as the first two buildings were approaching completion, Columbia held a dedication ceremony for the 17-acre Manhattanville campus. Located on the far west side of West Harlem north of 125th Street, the campus will continue to develop over the course of the next several decades, eventually providing 6.8 million square feet of new academic facilities, with publicly accessible spaces at street level that will simultaneously advance New York City’s position as a global center for research and creativity and provide a welcoming addition to the local urban fabric.
The Lenfest Center for the Arts will begin to greet the campus community on April 22 with the opening of the School of the Arts MFA thesis exhibition. This is the first time in recent memory that graduating student artists will show their work on Columbia’s campus. In past years, the exhibition has been presented in gallery space in Long Island City. Among the first events to be presented to the Columbia University Previews Opening of the Lenfest Center for the Arts on its New Manhattanville Campus public in the Lenfest Center will be the Wallach Art Gallery’s exhibition Uptown, opening on June 2, featuring work by artists who live and work in Upper Manhattan.
The master plan for the entire 17 acres has been designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to enhance and deepen the connections between the university and the West Harlem community. The campus is woven into the existing street grid without walls or gates, and all buildings are transparent and open to the public at street level.
The Lenfest Center and the Jerome L. Greene Science Center share the Small Square on West 125th Street west of Broadway, where Columbia has widened the sidewalks and improved the cityscape with trees and benches to create a welcoming pedestrian path. This new route leads to the West Harlem Piers Park on the Hudson River, as well as to the restaurants and shops along 12th Avenue under the historic Riverside Drive viaduct. This first section of campus will be open to the public by early May, including several of the street-level spaces in the Jerome L. Greene Science Center.
Other projects now in progress as part of the first phase of the Manhattanville campus development include the 56,000-square-foot University Forum and Academic Conference Center (designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2018), a new home for Columbia Business School in the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Business Innovation and the Henry R. Kravis buildings (492,000 square feet total, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, scheduled to open in 2021).
Essential to the master plan—the first campus plan to earn a LEED-ND Platinum designation from the U.S. Green Building Council for sustainable neighborhood development—is the use of streetlevel spaces for publicly accessible open space, civic and retail facilities. For example, the main floor of the Jerome L. Greene Science Center includes the brain science Education Lab aimed at students, families, teachers and adults from surrounding neighborhoods and a community Wellness Center that will work to enhance understanding of both neurological and mental health in West Harlem.