Located on Columbia’s Manhattanville campus in West Harlem, the new home for the Columbia Business School comprises two buildings and approximately 492,000 additional square feet of floor area. The two buildings designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro are the Henry R. Kravis Hall and the David Geffen Hall respectively, which each include numerous multifunctional spaces that foster a sense of community.
In terms of organization, the Kravis Hall building alternates floors of faculty offices with spaces for student learning over its 11 stories while the eight-story Geffen Hall alternates floors for learning spaces with administrative offices. The alternating and shuffling of the program is expressed on the budling’s façade with transparent glass exteriors inset from the edge of the floor plate of teaching floors, while Faculty and Administrative floors utilize fritted glass. Each building façade features a custom curtainwall system and is regularized based on the geometry of the exterior building form.
Internal spaces are organized around networks of circulation and collaborative learning environments that extend through the building, linking areas for teaching, socializing, and studying. The result is a learning community that is vibrant 24 hours a day.
Connection with the surrounding West Harlem community is a key aspect of the design. Every classroom provides views outward to the city and landscape. The two buildings welcome the community, including a new dedicated space on the second floor of Geffen Hall for the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center that will build on the school’s ten-year history of supporting local entrepreneurs. A café on the ground level of Geffen Hall and retail space located on the ground floor of Kravis Hall at 12th Avenue establish further connections between Columbia Business School and the surrounding neighborhood, which includes a 40,000 square foot park.
Designed in collaboration with Arup, the structural solution of the Kravis Hall includes ‘skip truss’ steel framing on alternating faculty floors allowing for open student floors and nearly column-free classrooms. Meanwhile, spiraling, sculptural circulation stairs in Kravis Hall and Geffen Hall double as vertical elements of the structure while fostering interactions between users and providing panoramic views over the campus and New York City.
Achieving a LEED Gold certification, the building emphasizes the quality of the indoor environment, specifically air, light, thermal comfort, and materials. Low VOC materials are specified throughout with air quality supported by increased ventilation rates and outdoor air monitoring. The cooling and heating systems utilize chilled beam technology for user comfort and reduced energy consumption with low-velocity underfloor distribution into tiered classrooms. White fritting blocks to the areas of glazing help mitigate glare.
Materials were also specified based on their sustainable sources, percentages of recycled content, and local availability.