Rafael Moneo’s 45,000 sf Science Building is located on the last available site of McKim, Mead, and White’s original 1893 campus master plan for Columbia University at Morningside Heights. The master plan dictated a continuous cornice line twenty feet above street level at 116th Street, reaching more than thirty feet at 121st street, making connecting to the adjoining neighborhood a challenge.
With the advent of Columbia’s new campus in Manhattanville four blocks to the north, a project that will double the size of the existing campus, the design uses this key site to provide vertical circulation with adjoining public spaces through the Science Building down to the street, while integrating the cornice requirement into a rough hewn limestone base for a dramatic glass tower. Aluminum fins reflect the diagonal bracing of the structurally complex building, set on deep trusses spanning 200 feet above the existing gymnasium below.
The interiors, including 20,000 sf of labs and a 13,000 sf research library, are visible in the mostly glass east facade, emphasizing connectivity to the campus community.
(2010) Moneo Brock Studio
Photos: Michael Moran