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Architect Rafael Vinoly Named Master Planner for NYU Abu Dhabi Campus

September 25, 2008
N-57, 2008-09

Rapid Progress Made on the Design and Construction of Initial Campus

Rafael Vinoly - the world-renowned architect known for the Tokyo International Forum, the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and the THINK team’s submission for the World Trade Center site - has been selected as the master planner for NYU Abu Dhabi, NYU’s new campus in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The campus, which is expected to open in 2012, will be located in the Marina District of Saadiyat Island. Saadiyat Island also will host other major intellectual and cultural institutions, such as the Louvre, the Guggenheim, the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, and the Performing Arts Centre.

NYU Abu Dhabi will consist of a highly selective liberal arts college, distinctive graduate programs, and a world center for advanced research and scholarship — all fully integrated with each other and connected to NYU in New York. Together, NYU New York and NYU Abu Dhabi will form the backbone of a unique Global Network University, with faculty and students from either New York or Abu Dhabi spending “semesters away” at one or more of the numerous study abroad sites NYU maintains on five continents. NYU Abu Dhabi’s first students will arrive in fall 2010; the Saadiyat Island campus will eventually serve some 2,000 students.

NYU President John Sexton said, “Universities are among humanity’s most enduring institutions. The opportunity to develop a new one essentially tabula rasa at the dawn of the ‘knowledge century’ in an emerging global crossroads is thrilling. And, of course, an important part of the university we are creating will be its campus - its space. In this regard, it is a great blessing to have as a partner an architect and planner of Rafael Vinoly’s vision, scope, and reputation.”

Mariet Westermann, NYU’s Vice Chancellor for Regional Campus Development and leader of the NYU advance team that has been preparing the initiative in Abu Dhabi, said, “An undertaking such as this requires a planner of true vision, innovation, and achievement. In Rafael Vinoly, we have found such a person, an architect whose talents are a match for creating one of the world’s great universities. When one looks at his Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Farm Research Campus, or the University of Oxford Radcliffe Observatory Quarter master plan, one can see the compelling creativity and design excellence we need to guide the development of this campus. I look forward to seeing his vision emerge as I spend this coming year in Abu Dhabi preparing NYU Abu Dhabi for the arrival of a permanent on-site CEO.”

Mr. Vinoly said, “This project represents an unprecedented venture in the academic world and presents a unique and exciting opportunity for our firm. Working closely with NYU, we will be creating a full university in a very challenging environment. We are charged with giving form to the university’s vision to help it recruit excellent students and outstanding faculty, providing the school with longevity and momentum. We are looking forward to an exceptional partnership.”

Rafael Vinoly Associates was chosen from among 16 leading international architectural and planning teams by a team from NYU and Mubadala Development Company, which will oversee development of the campus. As the master planner, Vinoly will create plans for campus buildings and facilities based on space requirements provided by NYU, open space and landscaping, environmental sustainability, and design guidelines, among other elements. The master plan is expected to express a meaningful connection between Washington Square and NYU Abu Dhabi, to create open space for gathering and circulation, to incorporate sound environmental management policy, and to lay the groundwork for excellence in architecture and design.

The master planning process is a key first step, furnishing the guide by which the campus’ program - the needs for teaching and learning, research, recreation, athletics, study, and student life - are matched with facilities and grounds. For NYU, the process is being led by Hilary Ballon, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Regional Campus Development.

The campus will include a comprehensive range of university facilities, including classrooms, faculty offices, laboratories, a library, conference center, arts center, athletic facilities, student recreation space, open plazas, student housing, and faculty housing, among other facilities. The planners will meet with NYU faculty and leaders to develop a campus that fosters interaction across the disciplines, advanced research, and an appealing residential community for students and faculty.

Sustainability, a prominent initiative at NYU’s Washington Square campus, will also be an important planning and design principle for Mr. Vinoly’s team, and will be emphasized during the architectural selection process for individual buildings. The precise size of the campus will be determined by the planning process. Designs for specific structures will be commissioned as appropriate during the course of the master planning process, and construction is slated to start in the summer of 2009.

For the opening of classes in 2010, a 65,000 square-foot initial campus is being designed and constructed in a prominent location in downtown Abu Dhabi just off the waterfront Corniche near the Cultural Foundation and historic Al Hosn Palace. The site has already been cleared, site work will begin in December, and the initial campus is expected to open by summer 2009. The initial campus — which is being designed by the Abu Dhabi offices of Obermeyer and manufactured by a specialized German company, Cadolto — will include classrooms (including rooms equipped with advanced videoconferencing to connect with NYU), a library, computer labs, faculty and administrative offices, a large meeting hall, and a garden as well as an information center, bookstore and café that will be open to the public. In order to expedite construction, Cadolto is prefabricating the initial facility; manufacturing is about to begin in Cadolto’s factory, and the modules will be trucked to Abu Dhabi and assembled on site beginning in April 2009. All New York University Abu Dhabi operations are expected to move to the permanent campus by September 2012.

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: John Beckman | (212) 998-6848


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