Academic space is the foremost building use, with nearly 40 percent of the square footage directed towards educational purposes. With 58 general-purpose classrooms, 181 Mercer will exceed the Silver Center’s classroom total by 50%, enabling NYU to better match classes with appropriately-sized rooms. And 181 Mercer will also provide NYU’s music and performing arts programs with state-of-the-art, purpose-built spaces for its music and theatre students, including a 350-seat theatre, dozens of new music instruction and practice rooms, and the University’s first orchestral ensemble room.
Almost all NYU students live in student housing their freshman year – easing their transition to college life, steeping themselves in NYU’s intellectually diverse community, and forming friendships and bonds. 181 Mercer will build on that tradition: a freshman “residential college” as part of a building that also houses athletic facilities; faculty housing; a Commons for students to meet, connect, and study; and academic programming. A building that will itself build community.
Emphasizing transparency, lightness, green roofs, and common spaces, 181 Mercer’s design gracefully accommodates its many uses. By moving circulation to the building’s perimeter and through the second floor “Commons,” the design encourages interactions between students and faculty, athletes and artists, residents and audience members. Though slimmer and 20% smaller than allowed by City approvals process, the building meets NYU’s pressing academic needs, fosters connection between people, makes NYU’s vibrancy and diversity visible for observers, reinforces NYU’s connection to the city, and is mindful of our neighbors and neighborhood. A building of which NYU can be proud.
Designed in line with NYU’s Climate Action Plan (PDF), the 181 Mercer project is committed to environmental responsibility. This includes connecting to NYU’s high-efficiency, greenhouse-gas- and pollutant-lowering Co-Generation (CoGen) facility which produces electricity, heat, and chilled water; a transparent façade that reduces energy requirements through natural light; low-flow plumbing; green roofs and outdoor terraces with low-irrigation plants to help naturally cool the building, with a retention tank, to manage rainwater runoff; aggressive recycling during demolition and construction; and state-of-the-art building management systems.
181 Mercer’s height and massing is inspired by its surrounding neighborhood, while its elegant and transparent façade reinforces the sense of openness found within the building’s interior. The design — slimmer, smaller, and lighter than the envelope set by the City approvals process — meets a crucial set of academic and NYU community needs within a single structure and consciously engages pedestrians and observers in the streets around it.