Update on the Coles Site: Selection of Architects
To: THE NYU COMMUNITY
From: Alison Leary, Executive Vice President for Operations
Date: Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Following a rigorous, five-month selection process that began with 16 architectural firms, I am pleased to announce that the University has selected an outstanding architectural partnership -- Davis Brody Bond and Kieran Timberlake -- to design the new facility that will be built where the Coles Sports Center currently stands. We are proud that NYU joins a list of remarkable assignments undertaken by this team, including the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the U.S. Embassy in London, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the 1983-2006 restoration and expansion of the New York Public Library.
Drawing on broad consultations with a cross-section of the campus community, and in close consultation with the Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee -- chaired by Tisch Professor Laurence Maslon -- we developed several factors that guided the selection process. Knowing how visible this project is -- geographically, in the public realm, and in its importance for our campus and space needs -- we sought architects who have a reputation for design excellence and the ability to produce a beautiful building that respects its surrounding environment. We wanted architects with sufficient size and experience to take on the complexities of designing a large, urban, multi-use facility such as the building proposed for the Coles site. Given our University's commitment to sustainability, we wanted architects who have expertise and experience in designing buildings that keep the highest environmental standards at the forefront of their work. And we wanted architects who have significant experience working with institutions of higher learning, not just because of higher ed's unique needs, but also so that they understand the diverse range of stakeholders and exhibit inclusive and consultative habits throughout the design process.
The partnership team of Davis Brody Bond and Kieran Timberlake ranked high on all these measures. Between them, they have won some of the most prestigious awards in architecture, and have designed LEED Platinum and Gold buildings throughout the U.S. and internationally. In addition to the assignments noted above, the quality of their collective work has earned them some of the most important and notable academic commissions of recent years, including projects at Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, Princeton, Cornell, UNC-Charlotte, UCLA, and UCSD, to name just a few. NYU has itself worked with Davis Brody Bond -- the firm was the architect for NYU’s University Hall student residence hall, which was completed in 1998.
The new building is critically important to NYU’s future. It will serve many roles for our campus by providing classrooms, space for the performing arts, athletics, student housing, and faculty housing over many years. But it must also fill another role: while being mindful of the neighboring context, its architecture should exemplify excellence and be a source of pride. We have faith that the partnership between these two architectural firms will produce just that.
A building that will serve so many purposes and so many campus and community constituencies needs to be informed by a wide range of perspectives. The Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee -- which is composed of faculty, students, and administrators from across the NYU community -- provided guidance and feedback at every stage of the architect selection process, and will continue to be involved throughout the building’s design.
Additionally, Davis Brody Bond and Kieran Timberlake know the value and importance of gathering input from across our diverse community. As a first step toward engaging the larger community, over the Winter Break, they will be working on plans to engage all of us in a broad and inclusive discourse about this project. I will update you again early next semester on opportunities and settings in which you can interact and share your views with the architects.
As you know, the process for selecting the architects has taken place against the backdrop of the court case challenging the City’s approvals of our plans. We believe it is prudent and appropriate to continue moving ahead with the planning and design effort, of which architect selection is a key part.