Glowing over growth, New School plans new building
A concept design for a new
New School academic building on Fifth Ave.
between 13th and 14th Sts.
By Lincoln Anderson
Volume 76, Number 41
March 7 - 13, 2007
Saying its student population is steadily growing and that better facilities are needed, The New School is planning a new, bigger building at 14th St. and Fifth Ave.
Jane Crotty, a New School spokesperson, said an image of the building that had been posted on real estate blogs like Curbed wasn’t released publicly by the school.
“They took it out of [The New School’s] annual report of ’05,” she said. “That’s a concept, not a design.” The concept design, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, features a vaguely Rubik’s Cube-like structure with seeming cutouts that would appear red by day and glow pink at night. In addition to doing the concept design in the annual report, SOM was hired in December to create the new building’s actual working design.
Right now, however, Crotty said The New School is mainly “in fundraising mode” for the new project. But, she assured, the school will put up a new building and construction would start in about a year. The New School’s existing three-story building on the site would be razed. The replacement would be 12 stories, but the exact square footage and price tag haven’t been determined yet.
The new building is needed, Crotty said, “because The New School is poised to grow. The need for the building to be replaced is driven by academic needs.”
Primarily an academic building, it would include a theater on the ground floor. The theater space — with perhaps around 300 seats — would allow for holding talks and events open to the community.
“They want to continue the tradition of lectures that they do,” Crotty said. “They want to continue the long history of community involvement.”
As for the pink and red colors visible on the building’s exterior, and the exterior’s translucent quality, Crotty said this all could change from the concept plan, noting, “I don’t think they’re wedded to it.”
“They want it to be light and airy, and there will be open areas for the student areas,” she said. “Since there’s no college green, you want these open spaces where students can mingle. This is like an indoors, urban-campus-type concept — a vertical campus.”
Crotty said The New School has met with all the area’s local elected officials and Maria Passannante Derr, Community Board 2’s chairperson, to apprise them of the plan.
“They’re all O.K. with it, because it’s on the avenue,” Crotty said. “And they’re talking about a building that’s inefficient and making it so it’s more in line to fit the academic needs of the university. I don’t want to say there’s no opposition to it — but we’ve been keeping everyone well informed.”
On the school’s growth, Crotty said the student population has increased in the last two years, “significantly, by a couple of thousand.” The New School now has 9,300 full-time undergraduate and graduate students.
In short, of the school’s expansion, she said, “There’s no top end — there’s increasing demand.
“And don’t forget the continuing education, which is very, very popular,” Crotty added, noting that most New Yorkers, it seems, at one time or another, have taken a continuing ed class at The New School.
The school offers 1,000 continuing-education classes to 25,000 adults each year.
Having former Senator Bob Kerrey as its president has raised The New School’s profile. Kerrey — who was a member of the federal 9/11 Commission — held the commission’s hearings at The New School. He has also brought a steady stream of national political figures — such as Al Gore, John McCain and Ted Kennedy — to the school for events and conferences.
© 2007 Community Media, LLC