Attendees at the ULI Washington Case study at the NYU Global Academic Center at 1307 L Street NW were treated to a juxtaposition of the fabulous sunset painting the evening sky on October 8 with the glow of the unique architectural “fins” on the building’s exterior. About 75 attendees heard a fascinating and comprehensive discussion of the Center, describing how it was conceived, funded, built, and is currently operated. The program was moderated by Phil Feola, an attorney at Goulston and Storrs, the firm that secured the entitlements for the project. Faculty member Victoria Kiechel and Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs Matthew Santirocco described the New York University philosophy of developing Global Academic Centers throughout the world (currently in Abu Dabhi and Washington, DC; planning underway for Shanghai) as vehicles to enable NYU students and faculty to engage in research and study on a continuing basis. The D.C. Center is also a key component of incorporating non-U.S. students into the study of the United States, its government, national priorities, and values.
The building, a 75,000 square foot academic and residential facility, provides a home-away-from-home for faculty and researchers traveling to Washington, and as a gathering space for NYU’s many alumni in the region. The Center has the capacity to house 120 students per semester enrolled in courses and pursuing internships, and provides living and work space for faculty who are teaching and conducting research. The building includes state-of-the-art classrooms, dorm rooms, faculty offices and residential space, research space, and a 121-seat auditorium. Six floors of the Center feature four-person suite residences and single-occupancy rooms, in addition to three faculty/staff apartments. Green Elements include a green roof, high performance glass, and glass fins. The building, a tight fit on a 60 foot wide site, is pedestrian and mass transit oriented, with no on-site parking.
Ronald Abramson, a local attorney and developer, and an NYU Trustee, discussed the process of site selection and fundraising that engaged students, staff and alumni into the design and program for the building. Gerry Sigal, CEO of Sigal Construction Company, provided commentary on the unique technical aspects of construction on the site, from the narrow width to its adjacency with the Associated Press offices that precluded crane swings that would interfere with broadcasting from the AP. Description of the interior and exterior design elements was provided by Yolanda Cole, a partner in the architecture firm of HickokCole. One of the most unique elements of the building is a balcony that runs along the façade outside the reading room and visually separates the student housing from the academic areas below. The building embraces NYU’s commitment to sustainability. Elements including a green roof, high-performance glass, glass fins and the noticeable absence of parking (encouraging pedestrian and mass transit) have been incorporated in the design.
Six floors of dormitories feature four-person suites, provided with shading and privacy through an external screening system. The designers strove to create equitable living spaces despite the challenges of the narrow, 60-foot wide site. In the lobby, a full wall graphic of a portion of the L’Enfant street grid plan for Washington D.C. is highlighted by an NYU color purple line running along, what else, New York Avenue.