The New School’s shiny new University Center by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) has finally opened on Fifth Avenue. The 375,000 square foot facility is a sprawling mixed-use space that incorporates both teaching and residential areas under one roof. The energy-efficient, seven-story campus was designed to encourage interaction with various routes that travel from one part of the building to another.
The long-awaited building opened last week, bringing a new architectural icon to the corner of 14th Street and Fifth Avenue. The facility will foster collaborative learning, with areas throughout the building to encourage interaction, co-working, and social studying. The elevator systems further this idea by only stopping at certain floors during peak times, forcing students and staff to mix on the oversized stairways. The stairways are also a design feature, highlighted along the façade with over-sized glazed windows. To reflect the iconic brownstones of the area, SOM lined the building with a similarly colored, hand-finished brass shingles, which intermingle with glazing and provide 20% shading during the day.
The bottom floors include design studios, labs, classrooms, library areas and social meeting areas while the upper floors are reserved for the residential areas, with rooms for 600 students. Passive and energy-efficient technologies are found throughout the structure, including energy recycling that is used to freeze water in the sub-basement and provide cool air for the building.