Volume 76, Number 52 | May 23 -29, 2007

A Salute to Union Square

A special Villager supplement

A concept design for a new New School academic building on Fifth Ave. between 13th and 14th Sts. — showing daytime and nighttime views.

New 14th St. building colors New School’s future

By Lincoln Anderson

Needing better facilities and with its student population steadily growing, The New School is planning a new, bigger building at 14th St. and Fifth Ave.

A two-year-old concept design, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, shows the building appearing partially red by day and glowing pink at night. S.O.M. was hired in December to create the new building’s actual working design.

The New School’s existing three-story building on the site is to be razed. The replacement will be 12 stories.

Jane Crotty, a spokesperson for The New School, said the project’s construction cost is estimated at about $400 million. It will be a green, energy-efficient building, she added.

Although some neighbors might be expected to balk at the new edifice’s glowing purple, pink and red exterior color scheme, Crotty said that very well could change from the concept plan.

“They want it to be light and airy, and there will be open areas for the student areas,” she explained of the building’s general design. “Since there’s no college green, you want these open spaces where students can mingle. This is like an indoor, urban-campus-type concept — a vertical campus.”

Crotty said The New School has met with all the area’s local elected officials and Maria Passannante Derr, Community Board 2’s chairperson, to apprise them of the plan. So far, there hasn’t been any major opposition. She said that by the fall, school officials should be ready to make a formal presentation to the community, but wanted to meet with local politicians first.

Photo by Michael DiVito

Arthur Penn, the theater and film director, left, was among the honorary degree recipients at The New School’s graduation ceremonies at the Theater at Madison Square Garden last Friday. At right is former Senator Bob Kerrey, The New School’s president.

State Senator Tom Duane said he’s optimistic The New School will both listen to the community and produce a good result. He hasn’t yet had a formal sit-down with school officials to look over the plan, but so far the dialogue has been encouraging, he said.

“They’ve been very good about keeping the community apprised of their plans as they move forward,” Duane said. “They’ve been doing everything right. If practices with them hold true, I believe we’re going to be very pleased with The New School.”

The New School is still focusing on fundraising for the project and also defining exactly what programmatic needs the building will fulfill.

“You need classrooms of traditional sizes — for 30 people — then larger spaces for larger classes of 150 or so,” Crotty said.

Some sort of physical activity space is planned, but it’s not yet known if this will be a gym — which traditionally would be two stories high — or a dance space, for example. The prospect of “jocks” at The New School has struck some as oxymoronic, however.

A 300-seat theater has also been mentioned in the mix of the building’s contemplated features.

On the school’s growth, Crotty said the student population has increased in the last two years, “significantly, by a couple of thousand.” The New School now has 9,300 full-time undergraduate and graduate students, and the school isn’t even thinking about placing a cap on its continued growth.

In addition, The New School offers 1,000 continuing-education classes to 25,000 adults each year.

As for when work on the new building would start, Crotty said, “Bob Kerrey [New School’s president], is hoping to get the shovel in the ground by next summer.”

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