Columbia Dedicates New Manhattanville Campus

Columbia University has dedicated its new Manhattanville campus, now taking shape along Broadway above West 125th Street in West Harlem.

(Photo above: Lenfest Center for the Arts (left) and Jerome L. Greene Science Center (right). Photograph by Columbia University/Frank Oudeman)

At a ceremony that echoed the dedication program for the school’s main Morningside Heights campus more than a century ago in 1897, Columbia President Lee Bollinger was joined by distinguished faculty, University deans, and students in welcoming community leaders and renowned architect Renzo Piano of Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which designed the campus master plan with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Piano also designed the first buildings to rise on campus: the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, housing the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, and the Lenfest Center for the Arts. Move-in will now begin, with full operation of the buildings and opening ceremonies planned for spring 2017.

The Jerome L. Greene Science Center is the largest building ever built by Columbia University. It provides 450,000 square feet of space for the neuroscience researchers of the Zuckerman Institute: 110,000 square feet below grade and 340,000 square feet above ground on nine floors, including two outdoor terraces.

The Manhattanville campus will establish Columbia for the next century and will be realized over the course of the next several decades in the former industrial area on the far west side between 125th Street and 133rd Street, with 6.8 million square feet of new academic space estimated to cost $6.3 billion. Reflecting the University’s values, this new urban campus is designed to have no barriers, either between academic disciplines or between Columbia and the West Harlem community. Academic facilities will be University-wide in impact, the amply landscaped grounds will be woven into the existing street grid with no walls or gates, and all buildings will be open to the public and programmed for community use at street level.

“When we committed ourselves to the Manhattanville campus in West Harlem, we knew it would be essential for Columbia to use this opportunity to build exceptional spaces for our mission of teaching, research and creativity that make a difference in the world, and to do so in a way that benefits our city and community,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. “We are creating a different kind of academic space than in the past, designed for the cross-disciplinary interaction that is crucial to new knowledge, within an open, accessible urban campus that encourages the University and community to engage with and strengthen one another.”

Receiving recognition and thanks were the major donors to the 450,000-square-foot Jerome L. Greene Science Center, the pioneering neuroscience research institute for which the building is designed, and the 60,000-square-foot Lenfest Center for the Arts. They are Christina McInerney, president and CEO of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation and daughter of the late Dawn M. Greene; philanthropists Mortimer B. Zuckerman and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, Founder of the Lenfest Foundation.

A third building on the Manhattanville campus, the 56,000-square-foot University Forum and Academic Conference Center, also designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, is currently under construction and is expected to open in 2018. Soon to begin construction is a new home for Columbia Business School, the Henry R. Kravis Building and Ronald O. Perelman Center for Business Innovation, designed by Diller Scofidio+Renfro in collaboration with FXFowle around a one-acre publicly accessible green space.

Renzo Piano said, “The Morningside Heights campus designed by McKim, Mead, and White was conceived as a small acropolis, intended to enclose and protect. It envisioned Columbia in relationship to the metropolis, but also apart from it. The story we have to tell today is different. It addresses what it means to make a contemporary campus in the middle of the city. With the first buildings—the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, housing the Zuckerman Institute, and the Lenfest Center for the Arts—along with the University Forum and the plaza called the Small Square, you already see the essence of a campus. You have science, you have art, and you have community. Then, to make this a truly contemporary campus, the University and community merge. Traffic and people will move through seamlessly, without barriers. It is a campus built around the idea of shared values and of cultivating diverse approaches to life.”

At street level and open to the public, the Jerome L. Greene Science Center offers:

  • A community Wellness Center offering blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, as well as mental health and stroke prevention training, under the direction of Dr. Olajide A. Williams, chief of staff/chief medical officer of Neurology at Columbia University and founder of the internationally recognized public health intervention programs Hip Hop Public Health and Hip Hop Stroke, and Dr. Sidney Hankerson, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, who developed the New York State Psychiatric Institute’s Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), a program dedicated to improving access to quality mental health services in Upper Manhattan
  • An Education Lab offering public programs about brain science for the community and K-12 schools, with hands-on activities that harness the Zuckerman Institute’s research
  • The Synapse, an interactive installation where the public can learn about the brain research being conducted in the building
  • Retail and restaurants

Established in 2012, the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute is Columbia University’s comprehensive center for interdisciplinary and collaborative research in brain science. Led by a group of the world’s most distinguished neuroscientists, Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute will bring together approximately 800 researchers working in more than 50 labs, each with its own principal investigator, to pursue one of the most urgent and exciting challenges of our time: understanding the mind and brain. The team of neuroscientists, engineers, statisticians, psychologists and other scholars from across Columbia and its Medical Center study how the brain develops, performs, endures and recovers.