New York


The City College of New York (CCNY) is a bit like an academic Acropolis. Situated in Upper Manhattan on one of the island’s highest points, its collection of early 20th-century neo-Gothic buildings, by George B. Post—and more recent additions by architects that include Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Rafael Viñoly—sit high above the surrounding neighborhood of townhouses and low-scale apartment buildings. Here, on the site of a former athletic field, City College and its parent institution, the City University of New York (CUNY), have created a new type of beacon on a hill, with two sleek but sculptural glass-clad buildings housing state-of-the-art laboratories for research in disciplines such as neuroscience, nanoscience, and environmental science.

The two new facilities—the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), serving visiting scientists and the whole CUNY system, and the Center for Discovery and Innovation, for CCNY’s own graduate and undergraduate programs—reinforce the planning logic established by the rest of the City College campus. The four- and five-story steel structures, comprising almost 400,000 square feet of laboratories, offices, an auditorium, and meeting rooms, extend the pattern of paired buildings flanking a central pedestrian spine, says Hana Kassem, a director at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, the project’s design architect. By compressing the buildings and pushing them together, the architects create a common entry plaza for the research complex and also release some of the open space provided by the former athletic field, preserving part of the site for recreational use by students and the surrounding community, she explains.

Below the new plaza, the two buildings are connected by a supersize at-grade floor partially submerged in the surrounding terrain. It contains shared facilities, including clean rooms, a vivarium, and imaging suites. But above the plaza level, they clearly read as two separate structures, albeit with nearly identical DNA. Almost mirror images of each other, the office spaces for both are enclosed behind gently curving, ribbonlike curtain walls that help define the entry plaza. But beyond these sinuous elements, rising more than a full story taller (due to their considerable mechanical equipment requirements) are the buildings’ bar-shaped lab volumes. These were made rectilinear and orthogonal so that their interiors could be easily reconfigured to accommodate rapidly evolving research.

A common genetic structure is also found in the buildings’ interior organization: both are arranged around central stair atriums, conceived as hinges that link different programmatic elements both vertically and horizontally. These atria are the most dramatic of several types of spaces—including lounges, conference rooms, and informal meeting areas—intended to promote social interaction and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Although the buildings can be thought of as twins, they have distinct personalities, as exemplified by, for instance, their interior palettes. The Center for Discovery and Innovation is the more gregarious sibling, at least in terms of its finishes: its atrium has a bright-white terrazzo floor, a red resin stair balustrade, and yellow-stained laminated plywood on the walls. The ASRC materials, meanwhile, are more subdued: its atrium features soft-green terrazzo, bamboo, and polychroic glass that subtly changes color with the lighting conditions.

The two buildings have other slight differences, reflecting the needs of their users. One illustration is each facility’s linear equipment room, or LER—a space for heat- and noise-­generating equipment that doubles as circulation. At the Center for Discovery and Innovation, the LER runs down the spine of the floor plate, between the offices and labs. But at the ASRC, where scientists required a stronger link between their research and support spaces, this element has been pushed to the building’s perimeter, allowing the labs and the offices to be adjacent to each other. The arrangement has a fringe benefit: it meant the project team could create a daylight-filled LER that is glazed on both sides, so that anyone passing through it has views into labs and also out over the neighborhood rooftops.

These minor differences not withstanding, the buildings come across as a cohesive ensemble—an outcome of attention to details like the frittted glass fins that project from the undulating curtain walls. The fins’ primary purpose is to mitigate glare within the offices, but, outside, they also blur the buildings’ profiles against the sky and provide texture, and scale that helps mask the buildings’ true size. The effect is reinforced by the plaza’s landscape, which includes tall grasses and attenuated birch trees that gently sway in the wind.

It is through such subtle moves that the buildings stand out as welcoming beacons for the sciences. The ambition, says Kassem, was to create “a space that envelopes, and not buildings that overwhelm you”—a goal that she and the rest of the team have unequivocally achieved.

Size: 399,460 gross square feet

Cost: $708 million

Completion Date: September 2014

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC
11 West 42nd Street
New York, NY10036
Tel: (212) 977-6500
Fax: (212) 956-2526

Flad Architects
261 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 897-3000
Fax: (212) 213-8520


Client: City University of New York, New York, New York (CUNY)

Owner: Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY)

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC
11 West 42nd Street
New York, NY10036
Tel: (212) 977-6500
Fax: (212) 956-2526

Flad Architects
261 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 897-3000
Fax: (212) 213-8520

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Architect of Record: Flad Architects
Principal-In-Charge: Rob Graves AIA
Project Manager: David Halpern AIA
Laboratory Planner: Richard Pass AIA
Project Architects: Bob Fitzgerald AIA, Grace Han AIA
Job Captain: Tom Schwabe
Interior Designer: Jamie Carley
Construction Administrator: Kim Pomerantz

Design Architect: KPF
Managing Principals: Jill Lerner, FAIA, Michael Greene, AIA
Design Principal: William Pedersen, FAIA
Senior Designer: Hana Kassem, AIA
Project Managers: Phillip White, AIA, Gregory Waugh, AIA
Job Captain: John Oliver, AIA

Interior designer: KPF (Public Spaces), Flad Architects (Lab & Office Spaces)

Structural: Leslie E. Robertson Associates

Civil: Langan Engineers

Mechanical: Cosentini Associates, Affiliated Engineers, Inc.

Geo-Technical: Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers

Lab Programming:  Jacobs Consultancy, Inc.

Laboratory Planning:  Flad Architects

Landscape: Weintraub Diaz Landscape Architecture

Lighting: Susan Brady Lighting Design

Acoustical/AV/Security/IT: Shen Milsom & Wilke

Atelier Ten:  Sustainability

Clean Room: Facility Planning & Resources, INc. (FPR)

Shielding: Field Management Services, Inc. (FMS)

Graphics: Lebowitz Gould Design

Vertical Transportation: Van Deusen & Associates

Building Envelope Consultant: Heitmann & Associates, Inc.

Construction Manager: Skanska USA

Jeremy Bittermann
Bittermann Photography



Structural system
Steel frame

Exterior cladding
Masonry: White Mountain Stone Co. Inc. (stone supplier) Berardi Stone Setting, Inc. (stone installer)

Metal Panels: Permasteelisa

Metal/glass curtain wall: Permasteelisa

Moisture barrier: WR Grace

Curtain wall: Permasteelisa

Acoustic Louvers: CS Group

Roof and Green Roof: American Hydrotech, Inc.-Hot fluid applied rubberized asphalt waterproofing

Roof Pavers: Hanover Architectural Products

Leak Detection System:  Gaussan Technologies (formerly Progeo)

Louvers:  CS Group

Observatory Dome:  Ash Dome

Wood frame: (see curtain wall info)

Metal frame: (see curtain wall info)

Glass: Viracon (curtain wall glazing) Bendheim (channel glass, colored glass, ghost glass and feature stair polychromic glazing)

Skylights: Permasteelisa

Entrances: Dawson Doors

Metal doors: L.I.F. Industries, Inc.

Wood doors:  Marshfield Door Systems

Sliding doors:  DIRTT

Fire-control doors, security grilles: The Cookson Company, Inc.

Upswinging doors, other: The Cookson Company, Inc.

Locksets:   Best (locks), Corbin Russwin, Inc. (cores)

Closers: Stanley & LCN

Exit devices: Von Duprin and Stanley

Pulls: Burns Manufacturing, Inc.

Security devices: DynaLock and Security Door Controls

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings:
USG Corporation (Typical acoustical tiles),
Decoustics (Acoustic wood ceiling panels)
BASWAphon (Auditorium acoustic ceiling)

Suspension grid: Armstrong

Demountable partitions: DIRTT

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Sloan & Company

Paints and stains: PPG Industries

Wall coverings:
Walltalkers (magnetic and writable wall covering)

Acoustic Wall Panels: 
Knoll Textiles (panel face fabric)
Maharam (panel face fabric)

Bamboo Veneer Wall Panels  - Plyboo
Colored Fin Ply Wall panels – Sloan & Company
Sliding Auditorium Wall Panels: PK 30 System,  Lumicor (infill panels)
Perforated/curved GFRC Cladding in Auditorium - Formglas
Bonded metal paneling at CCNY tearooms – Forms & Surfaces
Slate Stone Chalkboards:  Stone Source

Plastic laminate:  Nevamar, Wilsonart

Solid surfacing:  Dupont Corian

Floor and wall tile:
Oceanside Glass (kitchenette backsplash, accent walls)
Royal Mosa (restrooms)
Heath Ceramics (kitchenette backsplash, restrooms)
Floor Gres (restrooms)
Caesar Ceramiche (restrooms)

Resilient flooring:
Nora (sheet rubber in specialty laboratories)
Mannington (vinyl tile in typical laboratories)

Shaw (Carpet tile in Tea Rooms and Offices, Broadloom carpeting in auditorium)
Patcraft (Carpet tile in Offices)

Raised flooring:
Tate Access floors, Inc., HK Techfloor, LLC (cleanroom)

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Terrazzo Flooring: Terroxy, Terrazzo & Marble Supply Companies (Installer: D. Magnan & Co.)
Feature Stairs: A-Val Architectural Metal III, LLC
Cleanroom Wall panels: Plascore, Inc.
Troweled Epoxy Flooring: Stonhard

Laboratory Furniture & Fume Hoods: Lab Crafters, Inc & OC River Laboratory Furniture (wood casework)

Window Coverings and Interior Drapery: Mechoshade

Office furniture: Herman Miller (desk, storage, credenzas, filing)

Reception furniture: Herman Miller (desk, storage, custom transaction surfaces)

Fixed seating:
Sloan & Company (curved benches in lobby)
Tiger Leather (bench cushion upholstery)

Knoll Studio (bar stools, lobby seating)
HBF (lounge chairs, seminar seating, office side chairs, dining chairs)
Coalesse (conference seating, office side seating, dining chairs, lounge)
Haworth (side seating)
Steelcase (task seating, laboratory stools)
Knoll (laboratory stools)
Lowenstein (side chairs)
Global Industries (auditorium seminar seating)

Knoll Studio (dining tables, office side tables, small conference tables)
Nucraft (large conference tables)
Coalesse (seminar tables)
Harter (dining tables, office side tables, small conference tables)

Knoll Textiles (seating)
Elmosoft Leather (seating)
HBF Textiles (seating)
Maharam (seating)
Tiger Leather (seating)
Momentum (seating)
Designtex (seating)

Other furniture:
KI (lecterns)
Nucraft (lecterns)
Forms & Surfaces (waste/recycling receptacles)
Knoll Studio (exterior furniture)
Landscape Forms (exterior furniture)

Interior ambient lighting: Lightolier, Mark Architectural Lighting, PMC Lighting

Downlights: Lum-Tech, Kenall, Pure lighting, Global Lighting, Flos

Task lighting: Herman Miller

Exterior: Kenall, Bega

Dimming System or other lighting controls: fifth Light Technology, Ltd.

Elevators/Escalators: Fujitec America, Inc with CEC Elevator Cab Corp.

Laboratory Fixtures: Water Saver Faucet Co.

Water Closets: Zurn

Lavatories: American Standard with Zurn Aqua Sense fittings

Electric Water Coolers: Elkay

Energy management or building automation system: Siemens