Columbia Business School

Architecture firm:  Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in  collaboration with FXCollaborative  

Owner: Columbia Business School

Location: New York

Category: Merit

Project site: Previously developed

Building program type(s): Education - college/university (campus-level)

With two distinct buildings that share a common DNA, this new home for Columbia Business School in New York’s West Harlem neighborhood has doubled the school’s existing square footage while providing a compelling space for students, faculty, and alumni to exchange ideas. Both buildings set the stage for dynamic interactions among the university’s different populations by shuffling faculty and student floors, an intention that’s legible in their syncopated silhouettes.

The team’s design reinforces the notion that creativity and innovation, typically experienced in more informal environments, are as important to a business school education as the qualitative skills developed in classroom settings. In both the 11-story Henry R. Kravis Hall and the eight-story David Geffen Hall, intersecting vertical networks of circulation and collaborative learning environments connect to teaching, social, and study spaces to foster learning and interaction 24 hours a day. Stairs wind through both buildings to form a dialogue that stretches across The Square, a 40,000-square-foot public park linking them, animating the facades with the rhythms of daily activity.  

“The design program integration of student-centered spaces and the visual expression of both buildings is striking. It is a beautiful project that addresses the cityscape in a meaningful way.” - Jury comment

In anticipation of future needs for distance learning and connectivity, the team ensured the classrooms can expand to augment in-person learning and make education more accessible. In the classrooms, every person’s face can be captured on camera and projected onto other spaces with writing and image surfaces. More projectors can be easily added, and a stereophonic audio system picks up all voices in the classroom.

Continuous engagement with the city is a critical element of both buildings’ design. Kravis Hall boasts 360 degrees of exposure and proximity to the Hudson River, while Geffen Hall solidifies a connection to the neighborhood’s fabric. The Square and numerous retail spaces draw the community in, and the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center advances the school's decade-long history of supporting local entrepreneurs.

A master plan envisioned by Renzo Piano mandates that the ground floors of each building on Columbia’s Manhattanville campus provide a porous connection to the city beyond. Both of the LEED Gold-certified business school buildings meet the ground with social and event spaces that establish visual and programmatic connections across The Square. At Kravis Hall, the Samberg Commons is an urban-scale living room for the university community replete with undulating seating that accommodates group study or a place for lunch. Geffen Hall’s Cooperman Commons welcomes 274 people to its auditorium space and hosts student orientations and faculty meetings.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of substantial project completion: 2022

Gross conditioned floor area: 492,000 sq. ft.

Project team

Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Architect, Sustainability/LEED consultant: FXCollaborative  

Structural Engineer, Exterior Envelope and Façade

Consultant: Arup  

Associate Architect (Dedicated Dining, Multi-Function Room): Aaris Design Studios  

Mechanical Engineer: Buro Happold  

Construction Manager: Turner Construction  

Lighting Design: Tillotson Design Associates  

Acoustics: Cerami & Associates  Vertical Transportation: Van Deusen and Associates  

Civil Engineering: Stantec

Consultants  AV: Cerami & Associates, The Clarient Group, Jaffe Holden  

IT: The Clarient Group, Jaros Baum & Bolles  

Security: DVS Security Consulting and Engineering

Food Services: Romano Gatland  

Cost Consulting: Dharam Consulting  

Code: Milrose  

Graphics and Wayfinding: Pentagram


Lori Cappucio, AIA (Chair), SmithGroup, Washington, DC

Omar Bailey, AIA, Shepley Finch, Phoenix

Vince Gonzales, AIA, Seattle Public Schools, Seattle

Kandis Larsen, AIA, Integrus + YGH, Spokane, Wash.

Sindu Meier, AIA, William Rawn Associates, Milton, Mass.

Image credits

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Iwan Baan

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