Archtober Building of the Day #23
NYU School of Professional Studies
7 East 12th Street
Mitchell | Giurgola Architects, LLP
A rainy day did not deter Archtober, and the hardy were amply rewarded with an up-to-the-minute view of an urban university hard at work. I want to change the name to “multi-versity” to capture the many different functions, schools, demographics, studies, and programs that the ever expanding universe of NYU now comprises. A recent addition is the newly renamed School of Professional Studies on 12th Street. Carol Loewenson and Stephen Dietz of Mitchell-Giurgola Architects, led the tour of the renovated Fairchild Printing Building. Projects like these—complex renovations where some operations must be maintained in place—require the steady, strong leadership of architects who find the puzzle of programmatic problem solving the bread and butter of successful practice.
The entire facade was replaced, and a bit of fun was had in the slightly random placing of vertical aluminum shading fins with an occasional dichroic glass accent fin. Dietz said that the randomness reflected the variety of career paths that this particular branch of NYU caters to. A part of the whole university by day, by night, the building is filled with continuing education students—career changers, retoolers, and reinventers. The variety of programmatic areas accommodate both.
Never think that spatial pragmatism leads only to dullness. A three-story stair in the lobby is enfronted by a shiny, mango-colored Venetian plaster core wall, and the terrazzo floor has bright cobalt speckles that jazz up the sturdy color scheme of indestructible surfaces. Every level has small puddles of space suitable for scattered gathering. Snippets of wood trim decorate the window sills, and much is made of the wood doors and frames. But where are the comfy old green leather sofas? My only quibble was one of character—all these open work areas and glass-walled conference rooms will seamlessly segue into the urban professional world of the workplace, but will they leave an indelible impression on the searching mind?
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture and Design Month NYC. She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell. After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson, held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater.