Columbia Under Construction - April 16, 2007

Columbia Under Construction

April 16, 2007

(Courtesy of the Record)

By Dan Rivero

Mortarboards won't be the only headgear in vogue on campus this spring. Prepare to see many hard hats starting next month.

Excavation for the Northwest Science Building is officially underway, marking the last frontier of Columbia's Morningside campus. The building, slated to open in the fall of 2010, is one of over 20 construction projects that will kick into full gear this summer.

Between renovations, repairs and additions, much of the Morningside campus will be under construction. For instance, Jerome Greene Hall, home of the law school, will add a new floor of faculty offices atop its structure in June. The Journalism school will begin building a new student center on its first and second levels. There will be roof repairs in Avery, Buell, Chandler, Fayerweather, Havermeyer, Kent, Mathematics, Philosophy, and Schermerhorn halls over the next few months.

Additionally, renovations to McVickar Hall-including façade restorations and installations of new offices-will begin in June, to accommodate the planned relocation there of the Office of University Development and Alumni Relations.

At the site of the Northwest Science Building, construction crews will remove topsoil over the next few weeks and remove 40 feet of rock for the foundation following Commencement. Designed by Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo, the building will be located at the corner of Broadway and West 120th St., north of the Levien Gymnasium and between Chandler and Pupin Halls. Known as Pupin Plaza, the space is considered to be the last significant undeveloped plot on the original McKim, Mead & White layout of Morningside campus. The building will provide a new entrance to the campus at 120th and Broadway.

In a March e-mail to the University, Joe Ienuso, executive vice president for facilities, said that the new science building will provide both an intellectual and physical bridge among different departments and disciplines. The building will connect to Chandler and Havemeyer Halls, Pupin Hall, Schapiro Hall and Mudd Hall, which house the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and Fairchild Hall. Uniting the buildings architecturally will make it that much easier to move among the chemistry, physics, astronomy and biology departments.

"This new architectural connection will unlock new opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary research," Ienuso wrote. "By freeing up existing space, the building will help ease the space crunch in other departments, creating opportunities for further improvements."

When completed, the 188,000 square foot building will hold seven lab floors for interdisciplinary research, a library, a lecture hall and a café. Moneo's design will use modern technology and is intended to complement, not follow, the existing architecture of the campus.

In other construction projects off campus, the University is renovating the old manufacturing facility for Studebaker Autos on West 131st St. and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New Jersey. About three-fourths of the Studebaker building will be complete by fall of 2007, to house about 450 administrators currently scattered throughout leased office space in midtown Manhattan and elsewhere.

At Lamont-Doherty, construction has begun on a new state-of-the-art geochemistry research building. With the support of Gary C. Comer and the Comer Science and Education Foundation, the building with stretch more than 60,000 square feet and house 70 offices and nearly 30 laboratories.