New Law & Business Schools Building
Completed January 1999
This building, which will be located on the
corner of Amsterdam & 115th, will contain classrooms for Columbia's
Law and Business Schools. Although the contextual and historically sensitive
design, which will resemble Columbia's original campus buildings, is
admirable, the building unfortunately will not have any retail spaces
on street level, which will
make Amsterdam Avenue even more lifeless than
is. This is despite protests from the community and the fact that if it were a residential or
commercial building the zoning laws would require that it have retail.
The main administration of Columbia is sympathetic to our request, but
the Dean of the Business School, Meyer Feldberg, is determined to have
no retail or dining in his new building. We encourage you to
with persuasive comments. He is so opposed to food service that he
has even proposed getting rid of the deli in the Business School's current
building! He has argued that the schools
need all the square footage, but the space problems could easily be solved
if they would do away with a wasteful, glitzy atrium and empty lobby that
Columbia Daily Spectator
, the undergraduate newspaper of the University, has published
about this building with which we heartily concur. The Bottom Line,
the student newspaper at the Business School, has also published a more
about how the Business School is shooting itself in the foot by not
putting a 24-hour eating establishment in this building. It seems that the
B-School is desperately short of agreeable socializing and eating space.
In light of the planned closing of the College Inn, the only 24-hour
establishment currently open in the neighborhood, this concern is even more
Our only aesthetic quibbles: first, the odd flattened arch-like structure
on the fourth floor of the Amsterdam side, which has no precedent in Columbia
's traditional architecture. Second, it is arguable that a building on this
site should seek to look like the apartment buildings that surround Columbia,
and not like an intrusion of the campus beyond its legitimate boundaries.
Such an intrusion violates the harmony and integrity of the neighborhood and
undermines the carefully cultivated distinctiveness of the campus proper.
Below is a rendering and a picture of the completed building. Here is Columbia's own
story about this project.
COMPLETION UPDATE: This building looks considerably weirder in the flesh than in the architect's drawing above, a standing lesson for the community about trusting architect's renderings. It has all sorts of hidden postmodern quirks, like odd stonework and a vast sloping window running up the entire south facade, that give it an unsettling appearance that worsens the already unfriendly feel of this section of
Amsterdam Avenue. It also has a huge and bulbous green roof not shown in the design rendering. The architect seems to be saying, "I can build a nominally contextual building and still work in enough po-mo hat-tricks to keep my reputation among architectural intellectuals."
Enough fun and games: this is a neighborhood and we have to live with what gets built.
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