Columbia University has opened The Forum, a 56,000-square-foot, three-story facility that completes the first group of new buildings on the Manhattanville campus in New York City's West Harlem neighborhood,
The university says the facility provides space for academic conferences, meetings and public discussion. It will serve the entire university community and provide a gateway to the 17-acre Manhattanville campus.
“Sixteen years in the conceiving and making, the new campus in Manhattanville provides Columbia with the opportunity to do research and teach better in the present and also to have the freedom to imagine its future,” says Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger.
Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop with Dattner Architects as Executive Architect and Caples Jefferson Architects as Associate Architect, The Forum occupies a footprint of 17,846 square feet and has one floor below grade and three above, rising to a height of 69 feet.
Triangular in plan to match its site at West 125th Street and Broadway, The Forum is visually transparent at street level. Anyone may pass freely from the sidewalk into a Forum café outfitted with Wi-Fi, an information center, and a ground-floor space where Columbia’s schools and divisions will offer programming.
On the upper floors, The Forum houses a 437-seat auditorium, a variety of meeting rooms, and offices. The two-level auditorium has an area of about 4,000 square feet and rises to a height of 31 feet 10 inches, floor to ceiling. A projection booth and lighting and sound controls are housed at the rear of the balcony. Strategically placed wood panels on the walls and ceiling, designed by the project’s theater, acoustic and IT consultant Arup, enhance the acoustics.
The Manhattanville campus is situated a few blocks northwest of Columbia's campus in the Morningside Heights neighborhood. The university's long-term plan for Manhattanville envisions 6.8 million square feet of new academic space, as well as more than an acre of publicly accessible green space, landscaped paths, and street-level commercial and civic facilities open to the public.
Video from Columbia University: