PROGRESS REPORT: Stepping it up and embracing change with new center

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Tim Marshall.

BY TIM MARSHALL  |  THE NEW SCHOOL |  Since The New School’s founding nearly a century ago, we have embraced values that have long made Greenwich Village a haven for artists and free thinkers. From the university’s beginnings as a site of publicly engaged higher learning, The New School has stood for open discourse, creative expression and positive social action.

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As both a community resource and a teaching tool for sustainable architecture, the University Center, at Fifth Ave. and 14th St., will become an anchor for the campus.

The New School has also always embraced change — and over the past decade, we have done just that, transforming into a major degree-granting university. Our University Center, now rising on the corner of 14th St. and Fifth Ave, reflects this evolution. With facilities including fully networked classrooms, libraries, student residences, social spaces and venues for exhibitions and public programs, the University Center will provide crucial, interdisciplinary space for New School students to learn, live and interact.

Because The New School chose to build on land that we own and have already occupied for more than half a century, the University Center will enable us to create the space we need without expanding our footprint in the neighborhood.

To that point, our presence in Greenwich Village has been central to the planning and design of the University Center. Reflecting a historical dedication to our community, the building will be a resource not only to the university, but to our neighborhood and our city.

Specifically, the University Center will serve as a state-of-the-art venue for public programming and events. Since our founding nearly a century ago, The New School has established itself as New York City’s premier presenter of public programming. The completion of the University Center’s 800-seat auditorium marks a new chapter in this legacy. This fully convertible space can be used as a lecture hall, a theater, a fashion runway and more. The size and flexibility of the new auditorium will significantly expand our public offerings — and our contribution to the neighborhood’s cultural life.

The University Center will also be a hands-on teaching tool. Certain operational and sustainability features of the building are expressly designed to serve as teaching tools. As the building goes up and after it is completed, students will be able to use the structure itself as a design and sustainability laboratory, gaining a real-world education about the interaction between a building and its community.

The building will also be a new architectural touchstone for the Village. Designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s award-winning Roger Duffy, the University Center has already been lauded by The New York Times’s Nicolai Ouroussoff as “a celebration of the cosmopolitan city.”

The University Center will also serve as a citywide pacesetter for sustainability. With energy-saving white roofs, gray water and black water treatment technology, and responsibly sourced materials and much more, the University Center will bear the proud distinction of being one of New York’s greenest skyscrapers with a projected LEED sustainability rating of gold.

The University Center will be not just a focal point for The New School, but a neighborhood hub for learning, performance and the exchange of ideas. The University Center will open in fall 2013 — we look forward to welcoming you.

Marshall is provost, The New School

One of the most distinctive features of The New School’s University Center, shown here from 13th St., is a glass-enclosed staircase that creates a vertical commons running throughout the academic space.

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