Team Led by SMWM Will Guide the University’s Physical Development Over the Next 25 Years

NYU has selected a team to partner with in its strategic planning initiative, NYU 200. SMWM, the award-winning interdisciplinary design firm responsible for architecture and planning projects at several of the country’s most esteemed universities, in association with Grimshaw Architects, Toshiko Mori Architect, and the Olin Partnership, was chosen from among 11 initial proposals and three finalists. Over the next year, the design team will work with the University’s Office of Strategic Assessment, Planning and Design (SAPD) on a strategic plan that will allow the University to refine and clarify its planning principles, and provide guidance in addressing its academic needs and physical development over the next 25 years.

Lori Pavese Mazor, NYU’s Associate Vice President for Planning and Design, said, “NYU was founded on the principal of being ‘in and of the City,’ and SMWM really got and embraced that. The combination of a strong, integrated urban planning and architecture firm collaborating with an international team of gifted designers made SMWM an inimitable choice that we are confident will work incredibly well with our internal team, as well as our neighbors, community groups and civic leaders, and allow us to advance our vision. We are very pleased by the selection of the SMWM team-they will be great partners.”

“This is an exciting time for NYU. It is not every day that an institution takes this kind of significant look at itself and its future and lays the groundwork for future generations. We have spent the last year working with both internal and external groups to establish a set of planning principles to guide future growth, reinforce our identity and enhance the quality of our neighborhood presence-and the neighborhoods we share. These principles will guide us as we identify and evaluate future sites. This unique partnership will enable us to do both large and small scale work as we move towards the milestone year of 2031-NYU’s 200th anniversary.”

The partnership will provide NYU with a multi-disciplinary approach to planning and design. SMWM will lead the team with its expertise in architecture, planning, urban design, and community outreach; Grimshaw Architects and Toshiko Mori Architect bring visionary architectural and sustainable design experience ranging from the micro to macro scales; and the Olin Partnership’s focus will be to develop a comprehensive and sustainable landscape and streetscape plan.

The SMWM team has designed campuses, educational and public buildings, city districts, transportation facilities, streets, waterfronts and public open space. Their projects have been recognized for their emphasis on design excellence, clarity and collaborative process. A priority of their approach is integrating public involvement into the planning and design process using SMWM’s “Planning Game,” a community-based conceptual design technique that provides a forum for hands-on stakeholder participation. Planning Games led by SMWM have been frequently cited for their free and frank exchange of ideas, animated discussion, and atmosphere of collaboration.

Over the summer, SAPD and SMWM will organize work with a series of focus groups through the Faculty and Student Senators Councils, the Inter-Residence Hall Council, the Administrative Management Council, and the Academic Priorities Council to solicit feedback and help prioritize objectives. They will also undertake an extensive set of meetings with community groups and representatives from elected officials to seek input from NYU’s neighbors.

While NYU has five New York City locations and numerous global locations, the focus of the strategic plan will be the Washington Square and Union Square neighborhoods. The SMWM team will examine where opportunities exist, how NYU can best use its existing properties, as well as which programmatic elements should be concentrated in the area and those that can or should be located elsewhere.

Sustainability and “greening” will be an important aspect of the team’s mandate.

SMWM has completed planning studies for Harvard University, Brown University, and the University of San Francisco, all of which are concentrated in dense, urban settings. In 1997, they worked with a team of designers and engineers to develop design guidelines for Mission Bay in San Francisco, home to the new UCSF campus. SMWM, with offices in San Francisco and New York, is currently working in four of New York’s five boroughs, as well as Boston and Washington, DC, on projects ranging from master plans for waterfronts and brownfield sites to design guidelines for historic districts. They are currently designing projects for the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University, as well as the new Conservatory of Music for Bard College, their 5th building for the College.

Grimshaw was founded in London in 1980. The practice now operates worldwide and established a permanent office in New York in 2001. It has been the recipient of over 100 design awards internationally. Grimshaw’s portfolio is characterized by environmental responsiveness, structural legibility, innovation, and a rigorous approach to detailing. Grimshaw buildings are designed to have spatial and organizational clarity, to reflect the activities within them, and to be flexible enough to respond to changing needs.

Toshiko Mori Architect is known for their influential and innovative work as well as their sensitive approach to historical context. Recent projects include The Darwin Martin House Visitor Center in Buffalo, and additions to houses designed by Marcel Breuer and Paul Rudolph. TMA is designing a lab facility for the Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems at Syracuse University, currently featured in the Cooper Hewitt Museum’s Design Triennial. A 2005 recipient of the Medal of Honor from the New York City chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Toshiko Mori was profiled in The New York Times in for her work in reframing historical context by regenerating modernist buildings with innovative interventions.

Olin Partnership, the internationally-acclaimed landscape architecture and urban design studio, creates sustainable landscapes that succeed as both social and environmental systems. Based in Philadelphia, Olin Partnership has designed projects for numerous educational institutions, including Harvard, Yale, and Duke, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Campus Framework Plan. In addition to educational institutions, Olin Partnership’s design expertise encompasses cultural institutions, mixed-use developments, civic spaces and public parks, including redesigns of New York’s beloved Bryant Park and Columbus Circle.

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