110th St. Faculty Apartments & School

Completed and Open

Columbia has a growing need for faculty housing because of the increasing attractiveness of Manhattan living and the rising cost of local housing. It is therefore planning an apartment building for this purpose at Broadway and 110th St. where D'Agostino's supermarket is. Floors two through six will house a private school aimed primarily at children of Columbia faculty and staff, and floors seven through twelve will hold 27 faculty apartments. The building would also contain retail space and office space for technology startup ventures related to Columbia's science labs, (UPDATE: This part of the proposal has been dropped). Further information will be posted here as it becomes available; there will probably be some sort of community meeting with the architects and Columbia to discuss any urban-design issues arising from this project.

Columbia Provost Jonathan Cole's official statement about the school is here. He is the main driving force behind this project. Please note that Columbia's position may have changed in any number of ways since this was written. Columbia has had two private schools of its own in the past: the Horace Mann School, now in Riverdale, was originally founded as part of Teacher's College on 120th St., and there was a second experimental school, The Lincoln School, which closed in 1946.

Update 1/23/00: Columbia has revealed its desire to get a zoning variance that would permit up to 20 stories on this site, rather than the 12 permitted (more or less) by zoning. This would be too much, and would threaten the scale of the neighborhood. The zoning law (neighborhood zoning map) has already established, by the appropriate democratic processes, the fair balance between the legitimate competing interests of the property owner and the surrounding community. Columbia has yet to give a good reason why it should be exempted. Their best arguments are that existing zoning doesn't recognize that 110th is an exceptionally wide street and that larger zoning would enable them to eschew setbacks and build something more closely resembling the existing buildings on Broadway. Please call Columbia V.P. Emily Lloyd at (212) 854-2871 and tell her 20 stories would be too much. More details, from the Times.

On the plus side, Columbia has selected Beyer Blinder Belle, a distinguished firm of traditionalist architects, to design this building.

Update 2/20/00: Columbia seems to have abandoned its desire to get a zoning variance. It has acquired the air rights of the adjacent synagogue, and these will be combined with those of the two small apartment buildings on the southern edge of the site. The proposed grade school would have 30% non-Columbia-faculty children, and half of these would be on scholarship. The proposed commercial space has been dropped in favor of building it near W.125th St. (Please remember this in unconfirmed information.) There will be a community forum on this project 3/1/00, location to be announced.

Update 9/15/00: Columbia has held a series of community meetings, both on campus with residents of Morningside Heights and at the Church of the Ascension with residents of Manhattan Valley. The design presented by Beyer, Blinder, Belle is a fine one, though there was significant community objection to the glass brick windows on the second floor, which light the school's gymnasium. Columbia has also indicated a plan to narrow the catchment area of the scholarship places at the school to focus more specifically on Manhattan Valley rather than on the entirety of School Districts 3 & 5.

Update 12/21/00: There was a meeting at CB7 last night at which Columbia formally asked for the zoning variance they want on this building. They have also apparently changed the school plan so that 50% of its attendees would be local kids on need-blind scholarship. This has significantly improved community support. The architects have also taken out the ugly glass block windows on the second floor. Traffic issues continue to be raised but Columbia insists that they will be manageable and is having studies done by traffic experts to prove this. Columbia has proposed a ''drop-off zone'' for the school, an extension of the street into the space currently occupied by the sidewalk. The drop-off zone would cut the width of the sidewalk down to 11 feet. (UPDATE 2/13/01: The sidewalk changes request has been dropped.)

Upcoming Community Board 7 meetings about this project, which are held at 250 W. 87th St, are:

Tuesday 1/9/01 at 7:30 pm, Transportation Committee

Wednesday 1/15/01 at 7:30 pm, Land Use Committee

Tuesday 2/6/01 at 7:00 pm, Full Board Meeting

Tuesday, February 13 7:00 pm, the Transportation Committee

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 7:00 pm, the Youth and Education Committee

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 7:30 pm, the Land Use Committee

Monday, March 6, 7:30 pm, Full Board Meeting

Update 3/6/1 : Zoning variance approved 20-17. Click here for a complete list of community meetings on this project.

Click here for another view

Click here for the first draft

Click here for a computer-generated 3-D image.

Click here for the ground floor blueprint.

Click here for a higher-resolution scan of the blueprint.

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