The City College of New York - Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture

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By the late 1990s, the School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture (SAUDLA) at the City College of New York (CCNY) had outgrown its home in Shepard Hall and needed a new facility. Having worked successfully on previous projects for the City University of New York (CUNY) system, which includes CCNY, Rafael Viñoly Architects was chosen for the site selection, design, and construction administration of this new building.
The firm explored a variety of relocation sites and renovation options, before determining that overhauling an existing structure—a five-story, modernist glass-block building designed and constructed as a library in the late 1950s—would be most responsive to the college’s needs. Decades of evolving academic and administrative By the late 1990s, the School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture (SAUDLA) at the City College of New York (CCNY) had outgrown its home in Shepard Hall and needed a new facility. Having worked successfully on previous projects for the City University of New York (CUNY) system, which includes CCNY, Rafael Viñoly Architects was chosen for the site selection, design, and construction administration of this new building.
The firm explored a variety of relocation sites and renovation options, before determining that overhauling an existing structure—a five-story, modernist glass-block building designed and constructed as a library in the late 1950s—would be most responsive to the college’s needs. Decades of evolving academic and administrative needs had transformed the original site into a fractured, generally inadequate collection of administrative offices, which were relocated prior to the renovation.
Rafael Viñoly Architects completely renovated the poorly maintained building, preserving only the structure of reinforced-concrete columns and floor slabs. The firm cut a large opening in each floor plate to create a central atrium that directs daylight down from the roof to the ground floor. A series of stairs and pedestrian bridges pass through the atrium to facilitate circulation through the building and to establish connectivity and sightlines between floors so as to promote interactivity and spon tane ous encounters.needs had transformed the original site into a fractured, generally inadequate collection of administrative offices, which were relocated prior to the renovation.
Rafael Viñoly Architects completely renovated the poorly maintained building, preserving only the structure of reinforced-concrete columns and floor slabs. The firm cut a large opening in each floor plate to create a central atrium that directs daylight down from the roof to the ground floor. A series of stairs and pedestrian bridges pass through the atrium to facilitate circulation through the building and to establish connectivity and sightlines between floors so as to promote interactivity and spontaneous encounters. Additionally, partial mezzanine levels were inserted above the studio floors to provide space for faculty offices. These offices look over the open-plan design studios, through interior glazing, to a double-height space along the building perimeter that maximizes daylight in the studio areas. The corridors on the studio levels are wide, double-height volumes that accommodate informal lounge areas for relaxation and socializing, as well as pin-ups for studio “crit” spaces. Narrower balconies overlook the lounges and provide circulation on the office levels.
The exterior is clad in precast concrete with deep, shelf-like openings into which are set aluminum sun-shading louvers scheduled to be added in late 2010. Oriented vertically on the east and west façades, and horizontally on the south façade, the louvers are situated to balance outward views with maximum shading to reduce heat gain to the interiors. On the roof, an open-air amphitheater overhangs the atrium, with a full-height clerestory on three sides that admits natural light into the building. The amphitheater provides additional teaching and program space in temperate weather, and wide, unobstructed views of the midtown Manhattan skyline.Additionally, partial mezzanine levels were inserted above the studio floors to provide space for faculty offices. These offices look over the open-plan design studios, through interior glazing, to a double-height space along the building perimeter that maximizes daylight in the studio areas. The corridors on the studio levels are wide, double-height volumes that accommodate informal lounge areas for relaxation and socializing, as well as pin-ups for studio “crit” spaces. Narrower balconies overlook the lounges and provide circulation on the office levels.
The exterior is clad in precast concrete with deep, shelf-like openings into which are set aluminum sun-shading louvers scheduled to be added in late 2010. Oriented vertically on the east and west façades, and horizontally on the south façade, the louvers are situated to balance outward views with maximum shading to reduce heat gain to the interiors. On the roof, an open-air amphitheater overhangs the atrium, with a full-height clerestory on three sides that admits natural light into the building. The amphitheater provides additional teaching and program space in temperate weather, and wide, unobstructed views of the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Description from the architects