Columbia University’s 17-acre Manhattanville campus in West Harlem just announced that it has achieved LEED Platinum certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s standards for neighborhood development. Located just north of Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus in what used to be an industrial neighborhood, the area bordered by 129th and 133rd Streets, Broadway and 12th Avenue, in addition to three properties east of Broadway between 131st and 134th, will feature pedestrian-friendly streets and open spaces while connecting West Harlem to the new Hudson River waterfront park. The Manhattanville campus is the first project in New York City to score the LEED platinum rating for an entire neighborhood plan.

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The futuristic campus will be a departure from the ad-hoc growth typical of most urban campuses. A one-acre public square will add open space where none had currently existed and provide an outdoor setting for university and community events. Rather than functioning as an academic silo separate from the local community, the future buildings’ storefronts will be leased to local businesses and entrepreneurs. And new academic buildings throughout the campus will feature glass on the ground floors that will not only let in natural light, but will convey a sense of openness demonstrating that local residents will be a welcome part of the new campus.

The key to Manhattanville’s LEED Platinum certification is the campus’ clean construction program. Historic structures within 90 feet of construction will be protected from dust and noise. All construction equipment will be fitted with air pollution control devices and use low-sulphur diesel fuel to decrease particulates and emissions. The wheels and undercarriages of trucks operating within the site will be washed twice as the leave the area to reduce dust emitted in to the air. Over 90 percent of the construction waste will also be salvaged or recycled.

The result will be 6.8 million square feet of space for teaching and research, energy efficient buildings with smart grid technologies, underground parking to free up 94,000 square feet of open space, wider sidewalks to allow more pedestrian-friendly walkways and greenery that had long been lacking in the neighborhood. Excited? Be patient: the changes in Manhattanville will unfold slowly, with the complete renovation occurring over the next 25 years.

+ Manhattanville in West Harlem

Photos courtesy Columbia University

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