Manhattanville: Columbia’s Bold Vision for a New City Campus Begins to Take Shape

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

By Renzo Piano

What should a 21st-century university campus look like?

In 2003, when President Lee C. Bollinger announced Columbia’s most significant building project in more than a century, he emphasized that the Manhattanville campus would be a new kind of academic space: one that would foster interdisciplinary research to address the complex challenges facing society and also make a real contribution to the local community.

This spring, Columbia officially opens the first new buildings on that campus: the Jerome L. Greene Science Center and the Lenfest Center for the Arts. The University Forum, a new academic conference center, is under construction, and the Columbia Business School should have a home on the site by 2021. The seventeen-acre parcel of land, located in a former industrial area of West Harlem, will eventually accommodate more than a dozen buildings, to be developed over several decades.

President Bollinger, who has often spoken of the role of great academic architecture in inspiring the pursuit of knowledge and creativity, engaged the world-renowned architectural practice Renzo Piano Building Workshop to design several of the facilities in Manhattanville and create a campus master plan. In the following essay, architect Renzo Piano ’14HON explains the evolution of the campus’s design and how it reflects a bold vision for the University’s future.

Read the full article in Columbia Magazine.