Columbia University
School of the Arts Planning Study
New York, NY

The School of the Arts at Columbia University is an artistic and intellectual “laboratory” in which students work, experiment, and learn under the guidance of outstanding professors acclaimed in their fields of practice. The School offers graduate programs in Film, Visual Arts, Theatre and Writing and takes advantage of the extensive resources of the University and the city.

To support the arts at Columbia, the University and School engaged Davis Brody Bond to prepare a study and program analysis to identify space requirements and facilities (new and renovated), that would allow the school to meet current shortfalls in space, consolidate far flung outposts and reduce its reliance on rented venues. In addition to the School’s educational programs, the study also looked at the relocation and expansion of the Wallach Gallery, the University’s fine arts gallery, and renovations to the Miller Theatre which offers public programs in music, theater and dance.

The team was asked to develop options for the school which were cost effective and would work within the typologies of several historic existing buildings. The goal was to create a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment for the arts by addressing the shortfalls developing versatile and visible performance venues.

The proposed plan for the arts includes development of a new building, titled the “Lantern” which contains flexible performance space, screening rooms for film, and rehearsal space. To support this program, two existing buildings on the south side of 125th Street are to be renovated for workshops, instructional studios, individual studios, classroom and rehearsal spaces. The plan creates a critical mass of art production facilities in close proximity and allows the School to decant from its smallest and most remote facilities. With strategic renovations at the historic Morningside campus, the School will create a second major node which will support the administrative and faculty offices, as well as the writing program.

Image by Renzo Piano Building Workshop