30 in 30: #29

The Lehman College Physical Education Facility (APEX) in the Bronx by Rafael Vinoly was completed in 1994. What started as a conventional facility became a building that defines the college's northern edge and also provides a ceremonial gateway to the campus from this edge.


The street elevation of the complex is highly unremarkable, a concrete and glass wall that is more the latter than the former. The only relief comes at the aforementioned gateway opening. Once one moves through this opening to the south side of the building, the building changes character. "The building’s roof, a segmented convex curve, descends almost to the ground." Right of the image above are below-grade tennis courts. At left is the view below.


This campus-side elevation could have been extremely overpowering, though the architect skillfully breaks up the expansive roof into sections so that it doesn't appear unrelenting. While it may not "disappear from view" per the architect's intentions, as the campus's north edge it straddles that dividing line between ground and sky, like it's reaching for both at the same time.


On the day I visited, a basketball game was going on, allowing me access inside to see how the submerged gymnasium allows such a low roof. Additionally, this roof shape allows for seating to rise along with it, a sensible solution to the program which also stacks classrooms along the street edge. Nearing fifteen years old, the building's form works well as an icon for the campus, though its exterior and interior appear in need of some maintenance, something normal in the high-maintenance realm of secondary education.


The building is located on the Lehman College campus in the Bronx on the south side of West Bedford Park Boulevard between Goulden and Paul Avenues. It can be reached by the 4 to Bedford Pk Blvd Lehman College.

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#2 - 40 Mercer Residences
#3 - Dichroic Light Field
#4 - Juan Valdez Flagship
#5 - IAC/InterActiveCorp
#6 - South Court of NYPL
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#28 - Melrose Community Center


  1. Cool buildings here--you going to add some brownstone?
    Maybe a ghost sign or two?

  2. Afraid not, though if I found the pink brownstone I might have added that one.


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