Under Construction> Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Columbia University Medical and Graduate Education Building
When an under-construction project is just a skeleton of its future self, its nearly impossible to gauge the impact of the finished product. Sure, you’ve got renderings, but as AN has covered before, those are usually chock full of visual embellishments like dramatic sunsets, hot air balloons, and so. many. kayaks. So while it’s probably best to reserve judgment on Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Columbia University Medical and Graduate Education Building until it opens in 2016, let’s just call a spade a spade right now: this thing is going to be a very dramatic, very zigzag-y addition to Washington Heights.
Medical and Graduate Education Building
Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Architect of Record: Gensler
Client: Columbia University Medical Center
Location: Haven Avenue and 171st Street
Groundbreaking: Early 2013
Columbia University Medical Center has unveiled plans for the Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed Medical and Graduate Education Building on its campus in Washington Heights. Visible from nearby George Washington Bridge and Riverside Park, the 14-story tower will become a major landmark in the skyline of northern Manhattan, with a south-facing multi-story glass façade punctuated by jutting floorplates and exposed interior spaces.
When the attention of real estate speculators diverts, sometimes old neighborhoods have time to acquire a majestic patina. The Washington Heights section of northern Manhattan has been neglected for some time, but is now getting a fair share of spillover interest from Columbia’s Manhattanville project and the university’s nearby hospital campus. In 2009, the Audubon Park Historic District was created to protect the area just behind Audubon Terrace, home to the Hispanic Society and the Academy of Arts and Letters. But just north of the district, years of landlord neglect has unwittingly preserved row after row of early 20th century apartment buildings festooned with ornate cornices. But the cornices are now in danger of disappearing.