SOM, NYCEDC, and CUNY unveil master plan for SPARC, a new education hub in Kips Bay for healthcare sector workers

Creating Pipelines

SOM, NYCEDC, and CUNY unveil master plan for SPARC, a new education hub in Kips Bay for healthcare sector workers

SPARC, master planned by SOM, is located between 25th and 26th Street in Manhattan’s Kips Bay neighborhood. (Courtesy SOM/ Miysis)

In Manhattan, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, and representatives from NYCEDC and The City University of New York (CUNY) recently unveiled plans for a new $1.6 billion life sciences career and education hub designed by SOM, dubbed the Science Park and Research Campus (SPARC) Kips Bay Master Plan.

Plans for SPARC were first released by NYCEDC and the Adams administration in October 2022. This past year, SOM has been responsible for the 756,200-square-foot project’s master plan and conceptual design. Upon completion, SOM’s master plan will transform an entire block by adding three new towers in Manhattan’s Kips Bay area, a locus between 34th and 23rd street where a myriad of hospitals and healthcare facilities owned by New York University are located.

SPARC is located on the block between 1st Avenue and FDR Drive to the east and west; and 25th and 26th street north-south just across from Davis Brody Bond’s Waterside Plaza. It will be replete with public spaces, a pedestrian bridge, and resiliency infrastructure. In collaboration with the Waterside Tenants Association, the project will also deliver a new ADA-compliant footbridge connecting Waterside Plaza to 25th Street.

View from the corner of 25th Street and 1st Avenue (Courtesy SOM/ Miysis)

On the corner of 1st Avenue and 25th Street, SOM specified a grand lobby that opens up to Kips Bay. Interspersed throughout the block are three towers with varying heights. The western and central towers each have terraces located at their mid-level while the eastern-most tower’s terrace wraps the facade; connecting the upper-levels to greenspace.

SPARC will host modern academic space for approximately 4,500 students from Hunter College School of Nursing and School of Health Professions, the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, and the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s multiple health care programs, and a forthcoming New York City public high school. The redesigned Manhattan block will also feature an ambulatory care center for New York City Health+Hospitals (H+H)/Bellevue, training centers for CUNY students, a new Office of Chief Medical Examiner Forensic Pathology Center, and new commercial office and wet lab development space.

Pedestrian space (Courtesy SOM/ Miysis)

“SOM is proud of our work with NYCEDC to devise a master plan that integrates a diverse range of education, health care, and research programs into a vertical campus seamlessly connected to adjacent open spaces and healthcare facilities,” said SOM principal Keith O’Connor. “Anchored on First Avenue, the fully resilient campus embraces the new SPARC Square and offers spectacular views of the East River. SPARC will welcome visitors, students and scientists with modern buildings, landscapes, and infrastructure that will support cutting-edge research for decades to come.”

City officials emphasize that SPARC will be a “first-of-its-kind” endeavor. Upon completion, SPARC will demonstrate an unprecedented model for education and job training by creating pipelines between New York City public schools and the life sciences, healthcare sector, and public health industry, a press release stated. The NYCEDC estimates that SPARC will create 15,000 jobs—including 12,000 construction and 3,100 permanent jobs in the life sciences sector—and yield a total $42 billion in economic impact.

While the masterplan is by SOM, Mayor Eric Adams and the NYCEDC issued an RFP for architectural, engineering, landscape design, and related consulting services for the complex’s architecture and greenspaces. The deadline to submit to the RFP is January 8, 2024.

Construction in Kips Bay is slated to start in 2026 and be finished by the end of 2031.