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The New School Unveils Design for University Center Designed by Roger Duffy
Student Resource Center, University Center at The New School.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Board of Trustees at The New School endorsed a plan yesterday to create a major campus hub at 65 Fifth Avenue, a university-owned site between 13th and 14th Streets. The University Center, as the building will be known, will add 365,000 square feet for an array of uses including new academic space, an auditorium for public programs, a central university library, and a 608-bed dormitory with a separate entrance on Fifth Avenue.

“The University Center embodies The New School’s evolution,” said President Bob Kerrey. “This institution is in the midst of a transformation, amplifying its urban campus to serve degree-seeking students who now make up the majority of our enrollment. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of our curricula, the University Center provides space for students across all of The New School and its programs to interact and collaborate.”

Designed by Roger Duffy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill [SOM], the University Center will serve as a focal point for student life at this quintessential Greenwich Village institution. The building's brass exterior has been carefully designed to complement its eclectic surroundings, affording the university a signature architectural presence that respects the massing and scale of neighboring buildings.

In addition to SOM, The New School’s partners on the project are developer The Durst Organization, Tishman Construction and SLCE Architects, which designed dormitory interiors. Construction is scheduled to begin in August. The building will open for the Fall 2013 semester.

“Moving forward with a project of this distinction and scope augurs well for the fiscal and intellectual health of the university, “ said Michael J. Johnston, Chair of the university’s Board of Trustees. “If a single design can affirm a great university’s faith in the future, this one does it.”

The New School, which has experienced increased enrollment over the last ten years, has long sought opportunities to secure additional space to meet the needs of a greater number of full-time students. In his design, the architect was inspired to foster seamless interaction of the building’s circulation and learning spaces, mindful of the ways students, faculty and the community intersect.

“In every way, this new building will become the new heart of The New School,” said Roger Duffy. “Its location, innovative design, and bold programming will encouraging the face-to-face, spirited inquiry that is a characteristic of this university.”

The 16-story building will replace a structure designed as a department store in 1951, which the university outgrew years ago. Two floors below grade will house several lecture halls, a cafe and extension of street-level retail space. An at-grade auditorium will feature moveable walls to accommodate different seating arrangements and a retractable runway for student exhibitions. The dormitory, which will have a secure 24-hour entrance and sit atop the academic floors, will enable more students to be housed within walking distance of campus.

“Urban universities face special challenges, particularly in a space-starved city like New York,” said James Murtha, New School executive vice president. “To accommodate the growth of important programs within our limited footprint, we convened students and faculty over a period of years for a design that embraces the culture of dialogue and debate that is a New School hallmark.”

Because environmental sustainability is a core value of The New School, the University Center has been designed to earn at least LEED Gold certification, a voluntary standard and certification program that defines high-performance green buildings. It will employ state-of-the-art energy, water, and waste efficiencies. Classrooms maximize daylight harvesting through clerestory windows and light shelves, which substantially reduce energy use.

The single-phase construction project is a departure from the university’s original plan for a much taller building. Responding to community concerns, The New School’s more modest “as of right” project complies with existing zoning, including a dramatic setback from the street at the seventh floor. Taking advantage of relatively low current construction costs, the building will be financed through a combination of bonds, gifts, federal grants and asset sales.

“With this building, The New School’s academic profile can be fully realized,” said Tim Marshall, the university’s provost. “The University Center will have the breadth and technological sophistication our current programs demand and the flexibility to accommodate new degree programs that will lead our students to the next level of discourse.”

New York | The New School | Bob Kerrey | Roger Duffy |

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