Project architect Robert Garneau of Grimshaw Architects showcases examples of media that will transform a Rogers Hall corridor into a center for information exchange.
The NYU-Poly community previewed plans for Project 2010, the first reconstruction effort of i2e Campus Transformation, at a town hall meeting yesterday. Award-winning Grimshaw Architects presented the renderings and schematic designs slated to come to life this fall in the Rogers Hall dining hall and adjacent corridor.
NYU-Poly President Jerry Hultin explained why those areas were selected as the first to be revived in the 10-year plan to redesign areas of the Brooklyn campus. “The Steering Committee, a group of faculty, administrators, students, and trustees, were issued a challenge: determine a ‘special project’ that would quickly and dramatically signal that our physical campus is transforming to reflect our academic transformation,” he said.
The “special project” needed to promote collaboration as part of NYU-Poly’s i2e (invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship) philosophy, contribute to becoming a more sustainable campus, and cost less than $2 million.
“The corridor, a main artery for student, faculty, staff, and visitor traffic, and the dining hall, one of the campus’ central gathering spaces, were natural choices,” said Dennis Dintino, interim vice president of finance and administration and Steering Committee chair.
Dintino reviewed the process by which requirements for Project 2010 were met. Last fall, i2e Campus Transformation committees comprised of faculty, students, staff, and trustees were established. In January, rigorous planning began. Since then, Project 2010 has been unanimously approved by the Special Projects Committee, the Space Committee, the Steering Committee, and the Finance and Business Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees, which presented it to the Board of Trustees.
President Hultin also emphasized the importance of Project 2010’s sustainability focus: “As a signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, we have committed to promote research in this vital area and to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions on the Brooklyn campus. Project 2010 will play an important role in our progress.”
Dr. Phyllis Frankl, professor of computer science and engineering and chair of the Space Planning Committee, added that Project 2010 is the first execution of i2e Campus Transformation’s Phase One, which will continue for three years. Multiple committees are currently assessing academic and laboratory space needs, she said.
A tour of Project 2010
Before introducing design specifics, project architect Robert Garneau from Grimshaw Architects likened the corridor and dining hall to a gateway for campus visitors. “Once they’re in the door, it’s one of the first impressions,” he said.
Garneau described a key concept of the renovation: visually connecting the corridor to the dining room, or “café,” as project plans refer to it. Instead of the concrete walls that now create structural and perceptual barriers between the two spaces, large, glass doors will allow visitors to see from the hallway into the café’s interior and, ultimately, the plaza outside.
This change will lengthen visitors’ sight lines, and a change to the ceiling will heighten their experience — literally. The height of the corridor will extend another four feet when the dropped ceiling is removed and the corridor’s west wall is resurfaced with a textured material (stippled glass perhaps, or iridescent resin) in a bold color.
The corridor will also become a center for information exchange, with hubs of LCD screens on the east wall displaying everything from campus event information to course projects to an “eco-dashboard” that monitors energy usage and savings in the building. Science- and technology-related imagery will be projected on the east wall too, completing architects’ vision of a “media wall.” Garneau also shared working concepts for the modular floor-to-ceiling display system that will house the LCD screens and provide tabletop space as students chat over coffee or promote club activities.
The dining hall will change dramatically, too, said Garneau. A more thoughtful arrangement of new, modern furniture will create distinct spaces for eating, studying, and informal gathering. And the existing gray ceiling, which absorbs light, will be painted white to reflect light. The color is expected not only to greatly improve light levels for studying, but also to improve energy performance. New lighting fixtures in the dining hall and corridor will also go a long way to provide energy savings, as controls will automatically regulate light according to daytime and nighttime need. Motion sensors might also be added to light areas only when in use.
Such changes will reduce NYU-Poly’s carbon footprint, as well as its operating costs, said Garneau, who also discussed planned upgrades to some of the restrooms, including water-conserving fixtures, as well as building performance measures to be incorporated during the phased renovation. He also explained that project architects intend to integrate green-certified materials and solutions whenever feasible.
Q & A
Daniel Hernandez from Jonathan Rose Companies, which is overseeing the i2e Campus Transformation as NYU-Poly’s owner’s representative, led the Q & A session that followed. He asked the audience to focus its feedback on three points: how the designs presented might be improved; how NYU-Poly’s facilities — its labs, classrooms, or outdoor areas — could be different; and how the Institute can realize its goal of becoming a green campus.
Faculty, staff, and students alike responded with suggestions, questions, and comments. Replace water fountains with water-bottle filling stations, said one student. Another asked how the raised ceilings would affect the corridor’s acoustics (acoustical material will improve the situation), while a professor and student exchanged differing opinions on the possible color schemes. “Being around bright green every day might be a bit much,” said Professor Andrew Bates of the Department of Civil Engineering. A student countered that he liked the lime-green corridor, which is among the colors under consideration.
Early in the event, President Hultin addressed issues that were not asked during the Q & A but which arose following New York University’s expansion plan announcement (NYU 2031: NYU in NYC) in mid-April. In addition to building facilities along its Health Corridor on Manhattan's First Avenue and on Governor's Island, the 25-year plan proposes building in downtown Brooklyn. Hultin explained that NYU’s and NYU-Poly’s plans would be well coordinated and ultimate designs will be made in concert to create facilities that respond to student and faculty needs. He challenged attendees to join NYU-Poly in finding ways to energize MetroTech, creating a campus atmosphere as vital as that in Washington Square.
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