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Friday, January 24, 2014

New School University Center

Here are some of my photos and commentary on SOM's New School University Center from yesterday's inauguration.

The building is located on the southeast corner of 14th Street and Fifth Avenue. The sizable building (what SOM's Roger Duffy called a "vertical campus" during the inauguration) includes 200,000 square feet of academic space on the first seven floors and 150,000 square feet for a 600-bed dormitory on the levels above. The setback marks the transition between the two major components, where the two-story library can also be found. This view is looking south down Fifth Avenue:
New School University Center

Regular bands of glass and Muntz metal ("a sort of brass containing about 60 percent copper and 40 percent zinc" per The Architect's Newspaper) are broken by larger glazed sections that follow the stairs snaking down the building. This view is the Fifth Avenue facade near 14th Street (the worker just visible in the bottom-left corner, by the way, is part of the crew fixing the water main break that hit last week; Fifth Avenue was closed completely from 14th to 13th Street):
New School University Center

Around the corner, here is a close-up of the elevation on 14th Street:
New School University Center

Looking up at the Fifth Avenue facade, the scalar profile of the Muntz panels is particularly pronounced:
New School University Center

There is an entrance at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 13th Street, where one of the open, communicating stairs lands:
New School University Center

A few steps beyond the now-standard security turnstiles is a sunken, tiered space that is open to the lobby:
New School University Center

Inside, the building is all about the stairs. There are so many stairs doing so many different things (winding, straight runs, bends, angles, bridges) that it was hard for me to remember where each of my photos were taken. In the case of this photo, the number on the wall helps:
New School University Center

To convey the complexity – and hopefully some understanding – of the stairs, here's a diagram of them (via archpaper):


SOM must have had some fun getting the fire department on board with this design. An indication of the measured needed for what is basically an irregular atrium can be seen in the fire shutters, whose hidden presence is known through the gaps in the ceiling and tracks on the wall (just right of the signage on the wall):
New School University Center

Some of the most interesting parts of the building can be found where stairs "infiltrate" other spaces, such that circulation is not always separate from program:
New School University Center

The snaking stairs and adjacent spaces are in various shades of gray, but some color can be glimpsed in the elevator lobbies:
New School University Center

Corridors saturated with color give direct access to the studios and other classrooms, as well as being the location for students' lockers:
New School University Center

Many of these corridors are bare bones, such that without the colors they would feel like basement or service spaces (it's not surprising, given the expense of the stairs and exterior):
New School University Center

A straight-run stair ascends from the 3rd or 4th floor (I can't remember which) toward the mid-level library where the inauguration took place:
New School University Center

This is the same stair as in the previous photo, looking down from near the top. Note the two types of windows – the narrow horizontal bands and the larger panes following the stair:
New School University Center

The larger glass is also found in the fire stairs, which are located immediately below the open, communicating stairs (think of the stairs as double-deckers, with open stairs above enclosed, fire stairs):
New School University Center

The straight run stair comes to a landing that winds up again to the top floor of the library:
New School University Center

This view is looking down toward roughly where the previous photo was taken. Note the setback and snow-covered roof outside the expansive glass:
New School University Center

Here's a view that is a little bit to the right from the previous photo. The full-height glazing on this floor wraps from the south (left) to the west:
New School University Center

These windows offer some really interesting views of the buildings around the University Center. They are clearly from another time when seen through windows that are snaking rather than punched:
New School University Center

For those of you expecting to see photos of the inauguration festivities, which included an appearance from Sarah Jessica Parker, sorry, that's not my thing. You'll have to look elsewhere for that.

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