Innovative and sustainable solutions for Manhattanville Campus
Laurie E. Donald DBA Bernstein Associates
Renzo Piano Building Workshop
The recently-opened Jerome L. Greene Science Center at Columbia University in New York, designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in partnership with Davis Brody Bond, stands on a site with a total area 41,800 square metres. It marks the first step in the Manhattanville Campus masterplan, a large-scale assignment involving the redevelopment of an abandoned industrial area in West Harlem which was awarded to RPBW and SOM in 2002 and is due to be completed in 2021.
The complex includes the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, home to the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior interdisciplinary neuroscience research institute and the Lenfester Center for the Arts, an art school that offers degree courses in cinema, theatre, visual arts, writing and sound arts. It will also host an exhibition gallery, conference venues, a 150-seat theatre and flexible spaces suitable for a wide range of performances.
Present at the opening ceremony, Renzo Piano noted that the campus’s sense of openness to the community was the key theme guiding the project. As in all his urban-scale interventions, Piano conceived the street level of the building as a level that would be open to the city community, featuring restaurants, retail spaces and a wellness centre specialising in disease prevention activities. Open to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, the complex also includes a public plaza closely connected to the art school, which can use it to organise outdoor performances.
The floor plan of the structure – the largest ever built by Columbia University and the biggest university building in New York City – is divided into four quadrants of different heights housing the offices, laboratories and numerous multifunctional spaces.
Key characteristics include an innovative spatial organisation compared to the « classic » campus, a cutting-edge use of the curtain wall – in this case composed of six different types of façade elements – and a special focus on sustainability that makes the building LEED Platinum certified: a highly-reflective « cold roof » solution protects from the « heat island » effect and reduces greenhouse gas emissions; solar sensors contribute to temperature control; intuitive lighting controls adjust internal brightness to maximise the flow of natural light into the workspace and thereby save energy; a double-skin glazed façade system supported by an exposed metal structure creates a high-performance envelope that acts as an insulator to help keep the building warm in winter and cool in summer.
The interior of the complex is also open and transparent. Designed to foster interaction, sharing and collaboration between lecturers, scholars and students, the spatial organisation is based on glazed partition elements with common spaces and services and a system of laboratories and collective research areas on each floor.
The project won the Institutional category of the US Tile Competition 2017. Organised by Ceramic Tiles of Italy, the competition recognises projects according to criteria of creativity, functionality and aesthetic taste, taking into consideration overall design, the use of ceramic tiles, the quality of installation and improvement of the environment made possible by the material’s characteristics of sustainability. The floor coverings of the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, consisting of porcelain panels from Casalgrande Padana (Pietre Etrusche and Basaltina collections from the Pietre Native line and Unicolore collection from the Granitogres line), are a perfect example of a sophisticated project in which the warm grey tones of the ceramic tile accentuate the sense of uniformity and help to lend continuity to the floor through their sober and silent presence.
Casalgrande Padana, linea Pietre Native, collezione Pietre Etrusche e collezione Basaltina; linea Granitogres, collezione Unicolore
60x120, 45x90, 30x60, 30x30 cm
Capalbio, Linosa, Bianco Assoluto
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): compliant
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant