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Thread: Columbia University Campus Expansion - Manhattanville

  1. #1

    Default Columbia University Campus Expansion - Manhattanville

    July 30, 2003

    Feeling Squeezed, Columbia Is Amassing Land for a New Campus


    Columbia University, long starved for land at its campus in Morningside Heights, is buying up a 17-acre swath in West Harlem for its first major expansion in 75 years.

    The university's long-range plan calls for removing the battered brick industrial buildings now in the area bounded roughly by Broadway, 125th Street, 12th Avenue and 133rd Street and replacing them with a new tree-lined campus of school buildings, performing arts centers, research labs, a jazz club and dormitories.

    The proposed multibillion-dollar project, about half the size of Columbia's 36-acre campus in Morningside Heights, would be built in the coming decades and could become what the university regards as a link to its health sciences complex in Washington Heights. Aside from acquiring the rest of the land, Columbia also needs zoning changes that would allow high-rise development of nonindustrial buildings.

    Columbia has crowded new buildings onto campus for years and erected towers on scattered sites in the surrounding area, but officials say it needs to expand if it is to continue to attract top professors, researchers and students.

    Columbia is hoping that its plans will fit well with efforts by the state, city and community groups to redevelop the Hudson River waterfront and West Harlem, which the university prefers to call by its historic name, Manhattanville.

    "This is an opportunity in Manhattanville to create something of immense vitality and beauty," said Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia's president. "This is not to just go in and throw up some buildings. These would be beautiful, magnificent buildings on the order of what we have in Morningside Heights. Maybe not in mass, but in quality."

    Columbia has more than 20,000 students and 9,000 employees, making it the 12th-largest employer in New York City and the largest recipient of research funds in the city. The university has hired the Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Skidmore Owings & Merrill to design the project. If it goes ahead, the first phase would include a 500,000-square-foot complex on 125th Street for the School of the Arts, research space, residence halls and retail space.

    Columbia hopes to avoid the kind of community opposition and campus rebellions caused by its past attempts to expand, or its effort in 1968 to build a gymnasium in Morningside Park. To that end, the university is focusing on a run-down industrial area of warehouses, auto-repair shops and a meatpacking plant, avoiding a string of apartment buildings along Broadway between 133rd and 132nd Streets, but including an odd-shaped block to the east, bounded by Broadway and Old Broadway.

    The area is framed by an elevated subway line along Broadway and a highway viaduct along 12th Avenue; Manhattanville Houses are to the east and another housing complex is to the north.

    The university has been meeting quietly in the past two months with United States Representative Charles B. Rangel and state and city officials about plans to redevelop the area. It has also established a task force including representatives of the local community board and various neighborhood groups, a tactic that some residents have found encouraging and a break with what they said was Columbia's past arrogance.

    "They're treading lightly," said Peggy Shepard, executive director of West Harlem Environmental Action, who has met with Columbia officials. "They put together a task force to show the community they want to do this in partnership. They have not really presented anything at this point. It's mostly them listening to us. As long as their needs are compatible with how the community sees the use of the manufacturing zone, it could be a good thing."

    Over the past 50 years, Columbia has spilled down Broadway from the gates of its main campus at 116th Street. Its attempts to erect new buildings or buy old ones and squeeze out residents have generated one neighborhood battle after another.

    Columbia has owned property on the south side of 125th Street since the late 1960's, but few people have been aware of the extent to which the university has been buying or leasing property in West Harlem, particularly for the past year. It rents space, for instance, in the old Studebaker building on 131st Street and has an option to buy the six-story structure as well as the garage next door. The university owns a parking lot on 129th Street and, real estate executives said, is negotiating to buy the land occupied by a U-Haul franchise on Broadway, near 132nd Street.

    According to a Columbia document prepared for government officials, it owns or controls more than 40 percent of the 17 acres for the new campus and is in talks to buy 32 percent more.

    Next spring, the city and the state expect to begin a $12 million plan to rebuild the Harlem piers on the waterfront between St. Clair Place and 133rd Street for recreational use. The city is also working with the community board, Columbia and others on a plan to rezone the neighborhood and encourage economic development under Henry Hudson Parkway, just to the west.

    The university's plans would amount to one of the largest development projects in the city and could fit in with those efforts, although there is clearly potential for friction. School buildings, laboratories and science labs would generate new jobs, university officials said, and there is the possibility that businesses could locate nearby as a result of research work.

    In addition, Columbia said it would provide space for retail shops and nonprofit organizations along Broadway and 12th Avenue and would develop partnerships between, say, the School of the Arts and local artists and community organizations.

    That approach contrasts sharply with what others have taken as Columbia's view of Harlem in the past. In the 1960's, the university built a tower for faculty apartments at the corner of 12th Avenue and St. Clair Place, it put the front door on Riverside Drive, in effect turning its back on Harlem and 125th Street.

    Now the university's plans for high-rise buildings could also run afoul of efforts by community groups to preserve the low-scale character of Harlem. Housing is a pressing issue, and the university's project may require moving a major Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus garage now on 133rd Street. Finally, Columbia would almost certainly need state help to condemn property that it cannot buy.

    Jarvis Doctorow, for one, said he was having too much fun to sell. Mr. Doctorow, who is 79, owns the seven-story factory at 3280 Broadway that he converted to an office building, where Columbia is among the renters.

    "I cannot prevent people from knocking on my door," he said, "but the building is not for sale."

    Columbia has made no secret of what it says is its desperate need for land to expand. A 1998 survey by the office of the university provost found that it had less space per student than other major universities, 194 square feet; in contrast, the report said Princeton had 561 square feet, the University of Pennsylvania 440 and Harvard 368.

    Columbia is erecting a 16-story apartment building for law students at Amsterdam Avenue and 122nd Street and an adjacent $50 million academic center. It is finishing a building on 110th Street, starting work on another at 103rd and Broadway, and planning for perhaps two towers on the grounds of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

    Mr. Bollinger said he saw the land in Manhattanville as an important opportunity.

    "Over the long term, upper Manhattan is our home," Mr. Bollinger said. "Columbia will never fully realize its own aspirations unless it accepts that. The question is, how do we weave together this tapestry? Any sense of a gated community or a town-gown line would be a mistake."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
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    SOM and Piano means probably not brick and probably something different. I'm looking forward to the plans.

  3. #3

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    There probably won't be any published plans in the forseeable future...Columbia has tried to keep its purchasing spree quiet and was only forced to admit its goals after the Times discovered its buyout scheme. Obviously this is a very long-term project and Columbia wants to be sensitive to holdouts within the projected new campus' area.

    Potentially, it could be a half-century project.

  4. #4
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    Can't wait for this to start. *Benefits too numerous to count. *Plus SOM and Piano yielded the Times building, so...

  5. #5

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    Billy; it was Piano and Fox and Fowle, Im sure you had just forgotten.

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    True, sorry about that. *Sometimes in my excitement, I babble.

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    whoops, looks like html was disabled.
    is a URL for the Stoneworks on the Cathedral grounds.

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    Jo, use [ ] instead of *< >

    and planning for perhaps two towers on the grounds of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.
    Hm, where would these go? I can't imagine. Where the Stoneworks shed is?

    You're right, it would be nice to get rid of that shed.

  10. #10
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    OK, I found the proposed development plans, which include maps.


    Seems like the intend to get rid of not only the shed, but that whole narrow corridor next to the cathedral. Seems a little crowded for that neighborhood.

    The building on the corner of 110 and Morningside Drive makes more sense as it's further away from the landmark cathedral. But I guess landmarks get crowded over time.

  11. #11


    September 14, 2003

    On the Heights, a Chill Wind Begins to Blow


    Columbia will soon break ground on a new dormitory at 103rd Street.

    TO hear the veteran activists of Morningside Heights tell it, the defining moment came in 1997, when Columbia University descended from its ivory tower and held an audience with its rambunctious neighbors.

    The scandal of the day was a 22-story dormitory tower, called the Broadway Residence Hall, planned for the northeast corner of Broadway and 113th Street. If history offered any guide, local activists had said, Columbia would unleash its proposal as a fait accompli, leaving nothing but scraps for residents to fight over.

    Instead, the unthinkable happened. University officials not only entertained complaints about the tower, they also agreed to shrink the dorm to 14 stories, change the color from red to buff gray, and even relocate a public library to the corner spot.

    "This memorialized a new climate," said Bob Roistacher, chairman of the Morningside Heights Residents' Association, one of a galaxy of neighborhood groups that have locked horns with Columbia. Indeed, with the project, Columbia slowly began to shed its combativeness and set out on a new, friendlier era of community relations.

    Now, the détente may be in danger.

    After a period of scattered growth, Columbia is embarking on what may be its biggest expansion in the more than 100 years since it moved to Morningside Heights. In the past year, under its new president, Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia has quietly been snapping up properties in an industrial swath of West Harlem to make way for a satellite campus. Critics are already saying those purchases violate a tacit understanding that the campus stay within 110th and 125th Streets. On another front on Morningside Heights, local preservationists are reeling over Columbia's discussions about building towers on the grounds of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

    At the same time, just as Morningside Heights has reached this delicate juncture in town-gown relations, community activists say troubling changes are taking place within the limestone walls of Columbia. Although some people inside and outside the university disagree, the activists say that Emily Lloyd - the person they see as their greatest ally inside Columbia, the administrator of the neighborly approach the university first displayed in the 1997 dorm construction - no longer commands the same influence under Mr. Bollinger's leadership.

    Ms. Lloyd has gotten a new position with a new title, but one Columbia official had his own interpretation of her fate. "My sense is that Emily has been demoted,'' said the official, who, like other university officials interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve their relationship with the administration. "She gave significant attention to community concerns. Now her role has been confined to selling the expansion plan to the community."

    These two developments have furrowed brows across Morningside Heights, and prompted anxious questions. How will Columbia treat the community as it sets out on its new expansion? And will there be a revival of the frosty relations that prevailed before Ms. Lloyd's arrival?

    Some take a wait-and-see attitude, but Mr. Roistacher, for one, is pessimistic. "The past 10 years will constitute the zenith of community relations,'' he said. "Things are starting to go down.''

    University on a Hill

    High Gothic walls separate Yale students from New Haven, Conn. Harvard largely commands its own province of Cambridge, Mass. But on Morningside Heights, the border between Columbia and its multiethnic neighbors is as convoluted as an Escher drawing, with students and rent-controlled tenants often sharing the same hallways.

    This mixing is partly dictated by a confining geography. Morningside Heights sits upon a steep slope bounded on the north and south by 125th and 110th Streets and on the east and west by Morningside and Riverside Parks. Like a castle on a hill, Columbia looks down upon Harlem - and when town-gown tensions erupt, critics of the university make much of that metaphor of dominance.

    Such tensions reacheded a boiling point in 1968, when residents and students protested plans by the university to build a gym in Morningside Park with separate entrances for the mostly white students of Columbia and the mostly black residents below.

    "If the gym had few champions, it nicely served those intent on dramatizing what they saw as Columbia's rapacity in real estate matters and its systemic racism," wrote Robert McCaughey, chairman of the Barnard College history department, in his forthcoming book, "Stand, Columbia" (Columbia University Press).

    During the same era, Columbia acquired more than 100 apartment buildings on Morningside Heights, many of them rundown single-room-occupancy hotels. Some of the rooms were occupied by drug dealers and prostitutes, but many more were homes to working-class black and Puerto Rican families. Columbia undertook an aggressive campaign to demolish or renovate these apartments for students. By one estimate, Columbia displaced more than 7,000 residents in the decade before 1968.

    The practice subsided briefly after the 1968 protests, but by 1980, Columbia, citing another housing shortage, embarked on a new series of real estate acquisitions and evictions that created great animosity and brought town-gown relations to a new low.

    Those evictions ended by 1990. By then, Columbia had succeeded in amassing thousands of apartments. Not including dormitories, the university now owns about 6,000 local apartments, about 90 percent of which are occupied by people with Columbia affiliations.

    Local Heroine

    Emily Lloyd, a rail-thin 58-year-old woman with neatly trimmed blond hair, joined Columbia in 1994 as its executive vice president for administration. Nominally, she oversaw the university's facilities and sizable real estate holdings. But in her previous position, as commissioner of the city's Department of Sanitation, she also became experienced at navigating the concerns of neighborhoods.

    Local groups took immediately to the affable, no-nonsense Ms. Lloyd as she and her staff opened up Columbia's construction plans. As soon as a project got the green light, Columbia officials presented it to the local community board. When architects were selected, residents were invited to share their objections. If traffic issues arose, a traffic consultant was hired. Angry demonstrations were replaced by well-run meetings.

    "This sounds Pollyannaish, but the community frequently has very good ideas," Ms. Lloyd said in an interview this month. "People felt that Columbia was very mysterious, and they didn't know what to expect. We had to keep the community informed so we could build a level of trust and candor."

    Local residents returned the favor. "She's just marvelous," said Barbara Hohol, co-chairwoman of the 112th Street Block Association. "Emily is a friend of the community."

    Enlightened self-interest was at play in the university's new charm offensive. As in the 80's, Columbia entered the 90's starving for more space. "But most of the campus space had been used up,'' Ms. Lloyd said, "so we had to look off-campus, which meant that we had to establish a dialogue with the community."

    Following this hand-in-hand approach, Columbia added more than 1 million square feet of space during the past decade, from Lentfast Hall, a new 16-story residence for law students at 121st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, to a 12-story building with faculty apartments and an elementary school on 110th Street and Broadway.

    Work is half-complete on the future 11-story home of the School of Social Work on Amsterdam Avenue, and, last month, Columbia began demolition for a 13-story dormitory at 103rd Street and Broadway.

    By and large, construction has proceeded with little fuss, save the usual grumblings from veteran Columbia critics. Indeed, few eyebrows were raised even over the 103rd Street dorm, Columbia's first project south of the historic divide of 110th Street. Local groups praised the university for its openness in the project, and for providing neighbors with air-conditioners to keep out dust from demolition work.

    The building at 110th Street and Broadway, on which work crews are now putting the finishing touches, is a case study of Ms. Lloyd's way of doing business. The structure will house a grammar school for children of Columbia employees, as well as 27 large apartments on the upper floors for faculty.

    When the project was announced in 2000, the university and residents clashed. The School at Columbia, as it is called, was designed to attract bright, young faculty to Manhattan by offering a top education for their children. But to critics, the school was an elitist affront to the area's underachieving public schools.

    In an effort to bridge this gap, the university agreed to set aside half the 650 spots for local children not affiliated with Columbia. Admission would be drawn by lottery, and the university agreed to provide financial aid to those who could not afford the annual $22,000 tuition.

    The plan worked. What was once seen as a neighborhood burden became a golden opportunity for local parents. And the person most credited with the turnaround was Ms. Lloyd.

    "Things have improved infinitely, thanks to Emily Lloyd," said Marie Runyon, a veteran Morningside Heights activist. "The bulldozer is no longer their favorite weapon."

    Acres and Destiny

    In his inaugural address one year ago, Mr. Bollinger voiced a new and central goal for the university. "Columbia as the quintessential great urban university is the most constrained for space," he said. "To fulfill our responsibilities and aspirations, Columbia must expand significantly over the next decade."

    "Whether we expand on the property we already own in Morningside Heights, Manhattanville or Washington Heights," he continued, "or whether we pursue a design of multiple campuses in the city, or beyond, is one of the most important questions we face."

    That question seems to have been answered. Unknown to most, Columbia has been buying up properties north of 125th Street in the hope of creating a 17-acre campus there, about half the size of its main campus on Morningside Heights. The area runs roughly from Broadway to 12th Avenue, and from 125th to 133rd Streets.

    The site, Mr. Bollinger said in an interview this month, was chosen because it is near the main campus, and can furnish a link to Columbia's health sciences complex in Washington Heights. Mindful of its past skirmishes, the university picked an industrial area with few residences.

    But the ghosts of 1968 still haunt Columbia. This time, however, the issue is not a single gym, but an entire campus abutting the heart of Harlem, and some voices are rising in opposition.

    "This expansion is going to cause the displacement of blacks and Hispanics," said Tom DeMott, who is among 40 tenant advocates, preservationists and veteran Columbia opponents who earlier this year formed a new group, Coalition to Preserve Community, to combat the plan.

    Neil Smith, director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the City University of New York, agreed. "What happened before is going to look like a series of earlier ripples of gentrification," he said. "This is going to be a much greater magnet for gentrification throughout the western and central areas of Harlem."

    On another front, the Manhattanville Area Consortium, a group of businesses that may be affected by the expansion, have announced that they oppose any condemnation of their properties. Others, including Kenny Schaeffer, a Legal Aid lawyer who has represented dozens of tenants facing eviction by Columbia, also expressed concern about the impact of the university's effort to expand north of the traditional boundary of 125th Street.

    To deal with such concerns, Mr. Bollinger created an advisory task force, composed of members of neighborhood groups and representatives of Community Board 9. Ms. Lloyd also sits on the task force, but some critics of Columbia say that she has been marginalized. These critics say that Ms. Lloyd, who once oversaw most of Columbia's nonacademic departments, has been reduced to running interference for Mr. Bollinger's vision of a rapidly expanding campus.

    At a meeting in June, at which Ms. Lloyd presented Columbia's expansion plan, frustrations with her perceived lack of response provoked an audience member to stand up, turn to her and say, "Sorry, but I don't see you as someone with power anymore."

    Among Mr. Bollinger's first acts as president was to appoint Robert Kasdin, a friend and close adviser from the University of Michigan, to the new position of senior vice president. Ms. Lloyd was given the new title of executive vice president for government and community relations. The bulk of her duties, which had included new real estate ventures, were shifted to Mr. Kasdin.

    "It doesn't seem that way to me,'' said Ms. Lloyd about the suggestion that she has lost power. "I am co-managing the campus planning process. I still report to the president.''

    Mr. Bollinger, who said he places a high premium on community relations and that they are good and still improving, added, "I wanted Emily to stay on, and I wanted her to focus exclusively on community relations." But, he said, "Community relations is much larger than just Emily, and it will go further than just Emily. There are other people as well."

    That became evident to neighborhood groups when the private school at 110th Street resurfaced as a hot button issue last December. To seething local parents, the new administration seemed to be backtracking from its pledge to set aside half of the seats for community children.

    State Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell met with Columbia officials at his home. "Emily clearly wanted them to honor their commitment," he said. But it was Mr. Kasdin, who also attended the session, who needed convincing. "He needed to understand the long-term ramifications" of how this could hurt community relations, Mr. O' Donnell said.

    And in the end, it was Mr. Kasdin who announced that Columbia would stick by its original pledge.

    In other cases, Ms. Lloyd appeared to be out of the loop. For months, residents near the Teachers College on 121st Street have protested plans for a 17-story dormitory in the middle of an architecturally notable block. After claiming it had no involvement with the project - Teachers College is affiliated with Columbia but separate from it - Columbia quietly agreed to purchase 50 apartments for its own students. When confronted by neighborhood activists, Ms. Lloyd pleaded ignorance of the matter.

    This troubled those who view Ms. Lloyd as their best hope of influencing Columbia's future projects.

    "Columbia's relationship with the community is going downhill," said Carolyn Birden, a member of the 110th Street Block Association. "We see Emily as helpless."

    Some groups, however, are reserving judgment on whether Columbia is retreating to its old habits.

    "Emily is going to be navigating an ice field that develops larger and larger crevasses," said a veteran activist who spoke on condition of anonymity. "She's going to have to bridge more and more diverse splits between Columbia and the community. Her immediate challenge will be keeping Bollinger on a leash."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  12. #12


    Learning From the Past: Expansion Then and Now

    I.M. Pei's 1970 Proposal for Columbia's Campus Provides Perspective on Current Manhattanville Plans

    By Pooja Mehta
    Columbia Daily Spectator

    April 02, 2004

    High rise towers on South Lawn? A completely subterranean student center below? A café-theatre in the shaft of Ruggles?

    Most Columbia students probably don't bother dwelling on the paths not taken in the history of campus planning as they move through the paved spaces of their daily routines. Nevertheless, the history of eminent architect I.M. Pei's forgotten plans for Columbia's campus, featuring these types of changes, provides an illuminating perspective on the current debates over Columbia's impending expansion into Manhattanville.

    The quest for new and suitable space is as much a part of Columbia's history as manifest destiny is a part of that of the United States. Columbia's original master plan, proposed by Charles Follen McKim in 1894 in preparation for Columbia's third and final move uptown from 49th and Madison two years later, was the first in a long series of architectural attempts to assert and redefine Columbia's institutional image.

    Such a redefinition was sorely needed in the wake of 1968 student and community agitation in response to University plans to construct a gymnasium in Morningside Park. In an effort to ameliorate its tarnished image, the University commissioned a 15-month planning study, charging the high-profile architectural firm of I.M. Pei "with the responsibility of preparing 'a master plan under which the campus at Morningside Heights will be arranged and developed in a manner which will not only be in its own interests, but ... [also those of] its neighbors and the City of New York.'"

    Pei's daring recommendation that two slender high rise towers be built on either side of South Field, at the same approximate location of McKim, Mead & White's proposed but unrealized inner rank of dormitories, ultimately dominated perceptions of and responses to the resulting plan. Pei designed the towers in the hope that he could "correct the campus' physical shortcomings and fulfill the needs of the University as a whole" by compensating for existing deviations from the original McKim plan.

    "Cherished as it is, South Field in aesthetic terms is not a particularly attractive space," Pei wrote in his report. "Wider by 280 feet than McKim had planned, it is awkwardly framed by buildings of disparate scale and style."

    However, when the plans were first published in 1969, the immediate student and administrative response was less than enthusiastic. South Lawn's status as the last large, public open space on campus and the jewel in Columbia's neoclassical crown was seen as too valuable to compromise. One comment in Spectator read, "The loss of South Field will undoubtedly be as harmful to Columbia's students as the gym would have been to the Harlem community."

    "The towers completely avoided the real issue of the desire and the need for Columbia to grow," reflected Paul Broches, School of Architecture Class of 1970 and a fellow in the American Institute of Architects. "On a political level they avoided the problem that Columbia had faced so often in the past of making moves out into the community and standing at odds with community interests. ... They were also not realistic from a building standpoint and would have made miserable facilities for education."

    But in fact, in its entirety, Pei's proposal was a broadly ambitious plan that attempted to reach out to the community in numerous ways. Seeking to counter developments in the 1950s and '60s that, for Pei, represented "an architecture of expediency" characterized by "economic compromises and ad hoc planning," Pei stressed throughout his report the importance of reconciliation with the community. Quoting the 1968 Cox Commission, he warned: "The University cannot prosper spiritually or intellectually as an isolated island surrounded by distrust."

    In fact, the very scale of the plan's ambition may have been the cause for its rejection, causing tensions between the architect and an administration deeply in debt and wary of such dramatic changes in the logic of campus spatial planning and commitment to the surrounding residential community. Pei's planning strategy prioritized the maximization of development of existing campus grounds via underground building. Meanwhile, off-campus, Pei advocated for mixed-use zoning, consolidation of community residential buildings and student-faculty housing, more community-conscious traffic regulations, and the building of a new $8.5 million apartment complex at the corner of Amsterdam, Morningside, and 122nd. The stated aim of Pei's broad off-campus proposals was to "demonstrate that the University and the neighborhood can not only survive together, but can effectively accomplish their respective goals through community planning."

    Proposed changes on campus included the reclamation of Low Library as a "truly public building," removal of the departments of history and sociology from Fayerweather Hall to the International Affairs Building to create new academic spaces in those buildings, and the development of an Arts Center on campus, "in the heart of campus life." The most important new structure would be a new centrally located chemistry building that would "be elevated on pillars above Uris Library and set across the major North-South axis," and act as the new centerpiece of North Campus, thus completing the full intended North-South axes of the original McKim plan.

    In his book Mastering McKim's Plan, Barry Bergdoll describes the administration's ambivalent response to the Pei proposal. This response was subject to intense media scrutiny and was complicated by the simultaneous search for a new University President in the spring of 1970.

    Pei finally resigned in June of that year, citing his increasingly awkward interactions with community organizations and neighborhood groups that had contributed to the development of his master plan and were waiting impatiently for some sign of change. Since the beginning of his involvement, Pei had met with hundreds of government agencies, and community, student, and faculty groups. Although he had been granted complete autonomy by the administration, he could not help but be perceived as a representative of the university by the groups he met with, and was finding the lack of administrative support frustrating.

    "We desperately need some sign of progress if we are to maintain any communication with the community," Pei complained to the administration immediately prior to his resignation. "Month by month, the goodwill you have built up is dissipating. Columbia's credibility is deteriorating." His warnings went unheeded, and his dramatic vision for Columbia's Morningside campus remained unrealized.

    While Pei went on to design the Javits Convention Center, the iconic Pyramide du Louvre, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the last 35 years, a number of individual buildings have been constructed on the campus he left behind in continuing attempts to accommodate a cramped University's needs, including Dodge Fitness Center, East Campus Residential Center, the Havemeyer extension, and Alfred Lerner Hall.

    "So many people harp on the student riots on campus and don't go beyond that," reflected Nellie Bailey, current director of the Harlem Tenant's Council and a member of the umbrella Coalition to Preserve Community. "Yes, it was a defining moment in Columbia's relationship with Harlem, but it's the aftermath of that movement and what the University did after it got its wake-up call that is really important."

    Indeed, the scale and detail of Pei's proposals illustrates the large potential for change that was opened up by the demonstrations and disaffection of 1968. The failure of Columbia's administration to respond in a way that was seen as satisfactory by the community and the eventual abandonment of the plans reflect upon the delicate nature of town-gown relations and provide a valuable backdrop to understanding the nuances of today's Manhattanville expansion planning process.

    "It all doesn't seem so different from what's happening now," commented Nell Geiser, CC '06 and a member of SPEaK and the Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification as well as the administration's Student Committee on Expansion. "They have a high-profile architect involved, there are student activists strongly aligned with the community, there's the University-sanctioned token student advisory committee. ... There is a widespread desire to have good relations with the community, and they're taking feedback from both the community and students, but the reality is they're not engaging in really substantive give-and-take."

    Some community representatives, including Bailey, emphatically share Geiser's view, citing persistently high unemployment rates, health disparities, and a history of "corporate sponsored institutionalized racism" in Harlem as evidence of Columbia's continued inability to commit to and invest in the welfare of the community it neighbors. Others, such as Barbara Hohol, co-chair of the West 112th Street Block Association, and a member of the Community Advisory Committee convened by the administration last April, take a different position.

    "This is not by definition a malevolent incursion," Hohol said. "This administration, and in particular Emily Lloyd, really represent a positive difference for us. ... I think this expansion is the most exciting thing that's happened in New York in many years in terms of the possibility of interweaving communities and creating new opportunities, and I am outraged by the amount of misinformation that is out there. A lot of it is just hangover from the '60s."

    Lloyd, Executive Vice-President for Government and Community Affairs, cited specific steps taken by the administration over the course of the last year to ensure that members of the community remain well informed and have access to negotiations on plans for the Manhattanville site. Outreach has included University-sponsored and Community Board-endorsed town hall meetings, presentations at community board meetings, and smaller, more focused "geographic meetings" with people living in and immediately around the development area.

    How, then, does this administration compare to that of Kirk, Cordier, and McGill? "Bollinger certainly seems more sophisticated and savvier than some of his predecessors," said Robert Friedman, international editor of Fortune magazine, graduate of CC and GSAS, former Spectator editor, and co-author of Up Against the Ivy Wall, a book about the 1968 student protests. "Columbia has real needs and some of the conflict is inevitable, but as far as seeking opinions and incorporating the community, so far from what I've seen, Bollinger gets pretty good marks."

    Others, however, feel that Columbia still runs the risk of repeating past mistakes, albeit in new ways; the fate of the Pei's plan and the end of his involvement with Columbia in particular warn of the consequences of not sustaining consistent community involvement and support.

    "You have to put it all in a modern context," said Tom DeMott, a member of West Harlem Coalition to Preserve Community. "The difference between the late sixties and now is 30 years of corporate expertise in handling dissident voices. While you can certainly point to some positive aspects of that change, the key factor is to compare the actual results with the potential results, and it's in making that comparison that the analysis becomes kind of depressing."

  13. #13


    April 21, 2004

    Columbia Buying Sites and Assuring Its Neighbors


    Columbia University has aggressively moved to buy the brick warehouses and industrial buildings near the Hudson River in West Harlem where it wants to build a new campus, even as it does a delicate dance with community groups that view the school's real estate ambitions warily.

    Never far from anyone's mind at Columbia is the specter of 1968, when the university's plans to expand into Harlem and build a gymnasium in Morningside Park touched off a campus rebellion and opposition among local residents.

    Not wanting to stir old embers, Columbia established a 40-member community advisory council a year ago when it embarked on its plan to create a new campus on 18.3 acres bound by 125th Street, Broadway, 12th Avenue and 133rd Street. It has sponsored town hall meetings to solicit comments, and last night, Columbia unveiled its preliminary designs to Community Board 9, whose district includes West Harlem.

    So far, the general reception has been cautiously positive, with most people conceding that Columbia needs to expand beyond its cramped 36-acre Morningside Heights campus.

    But they do not want the university to build a campus walled off from the surrounding Manhattanville neighborhood. And many community leaders want local residents to benefit from the expansion through job training, construction jobs and professional work at research labs, as well as through opportunities for small businesses and retailers.

    Columbia has incorporated many of the items into its plans, but given the history of mistrust between the university and the community, some residents want the promises hammered into stone.

    "I think they need to expand," said Altagracia Hiraldo, a member of the advisory council and executive director of the Dominican Sunday Community Service, a group involved in immigration issues. "But we have to be included in the process. We want to have our people working, not just cleaning. We want the promises about jobs and job training to be in writing."

    Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia's president, said the project represented a tremendous opportunity for both the university and the community.

    "I have done everything I can to put the ghost of the gym behind us," he said. "Columbia is a different neighbor now. It's absolutely critical to Columbia's future that there be areas for the university's expansion. We want to stay here and be a great world university and part of building the community."

    Columbia officials frequently use a chart to illustrate their problems: Yale, Princeton and Stanford have much larger campuses, with 800 or more square feet of building space per student, the chart shows, while Columbia's campus provides only 326 square feet. The university, the officials say, is in desperate need of modern research labs, residence halls and academic buildings.

    Columbia expects to begin the formal public review process for its five-million-square-foot program in the fall. It hired the architect Renzo Piano and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to design the project. Based on suggestions made at community meetings, the school has incorporated a number of design principles. The campus itself would retain the current streets, and building designs would invite pedestrians to move west toward the river.

    The boundaries of the area are framed by the highway viaduct along 12th Avenue and the subway viaduct along Broadway. The buildings on those streets would echo the viaducts, while creating a mix of shopping, recreation and community services along 12th Avenue and Broadway.

    The school would help to enliven 125th Street as a gateway to the Hudson River waterfront, where next month the city and state are expected to begin work on a $10.4 million project to build three piers for boating, fishing, ferries and recreation.

    Mr. Bollinger said the university was committed to job training and to providing both construction and technical job opportunities.

    In the first phase, Columbia would build a School of the Arts and research space on Broadway.

    "I'd like to see the school expand the ways in which we can provide space for community arts, theater and dance," Mr. Bollinger said.

    But Tom DeMott, a leader of the Coalition to Preserve Community, said Columbia was not doing enough to preserve some of the manufacturing jobs in the area or to offset potential rent increases and displacement that will accompany the expansion. Columbia owns or controls about 42 percent of the property within the 18.3 acres it wants in West Harlem, and is negotiating to buy 17 percent more. But some local businesses say Columbia is offering them too little, while others resent it for trying to oust them when a revival is at hand. The university has asked the state to consider bringing condemnation proceedings against any holdouts.

    Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, chairman of Community Board 9, is optimistic that the problems can be worked out. "The area they're planning to move into certainly needs development," he said.

    Warehouses and industrial buildings near the Hudson River are being bought by Columbia University as part of a plan for a new campus.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  14. #14
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Manhattan - UWS


    Columbia's plan makes grade

    Published on May 24, 2004

    Columbia University wants to invest more than $750 million within the next decade to build a new campus in West Harlem. It is not an exaggeration to say that city agencies' approval of the plan is as crucial for Harlem and the entire city as it is for the university itself.

    Ever present in any discussion of Columbia's need to expand its campus are the scars from the 1968 fight over the school's plan to build a gymnasium in Morningside Heights, which led to a titanic struggle with the community and a campus rebellion. Yet so much has changed in 40 years that it is hard to see what relevance that sad chapter has for anyone.

    The stakes for Columbia are very high. The school has less than half the space of most of its rivals in the Ivy League, and many of its buildings are too old to accommodate the needs of modern teaching and research. President Lee Bollinger candidly admits that Columbia will never be a great university unless it can expand its campus physically in a dramatic way. In sharp contrast to most other major New York developments, Columbia will pay the cost itself, requiring very little investment help from the city or state.

    The people of Harlem, too, are faced with a crucial choice about their future. For years, the neighborhood languished as its leaders adopted the view that only they could control development. Now, a flood of outside investment has led to an economic rebound in which incomes have risen, retailers have brought the area into the mainstream and office space is in great demand. While the gap between Harlem and the rest of the city has narrowed, it is Columbia's plan that will broaden the neighborhood's economic base and could close the gap completely.

    The city needs Columbia to thrive because universities represent one of the economy's most promising growth areas. Since 1990, employment at universities has soared by 40%. Many of the best students in the country flock to Columbia and NYU and have continued to do so since Sept. 11. The prospects are unlimited, if the universities can find space to grow.

    Specifically, Columbia is asking the city to rezone an 18-acre, underutilized manufacturing area between 125th and 133rd Streets in West Harlem. The first, $750 million phase will bring new arts and life sciences centers, campus offices and retail spaces to the area's southern section. The university pledges steps to accommodate the community's reasonable demands for access to jobs and assistance.

    The rezoning plan is the linchpin, and it should be approved expeditiously.

    Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

  15. #15
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Garden City, LI


    If people are against this delopment, it's just sad. This is what NYC needs to do. Columbia and NYU should be NY's Harvard and MIT.

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