New York University
181 Mercer Street
New York, NY


Over the past several decades NYU has evolved into a highly-ranked research university with a growing global presence. As with most urban schools, adding space is a daunting challenge, made even more difficult by the dense historic context of Greenwich Village. Recognizing the critical need to accommodate its growing academic programs, NYU began working with the Joint Venture of Davis Brody Bond and KieranTimberlake to design 181 Mercer a new 735,000 sf mixed-use building to replace its one-story Coles Sports Center. The two firms are sharing design and documentation responsibilities through all phases of the project.

The building will provide new facilities for a wide range of University functions including performing arts (Tisch School of the Arts and Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development), classrooms, and athletics (Coles Sports and Recreation Center), as well as university housing for students and faculty. The project has required significant coordination among these different user groups as well as the University’s steering committee. 181 Mercer will be home to 58 new classrooms, a 350-seat theatre, two smaller 140-seat theaters, studios, and rehearsal rooms; a six-lane pool, an indoor running track, basketball courts, dormitory housing for students, and apartment housing for faculty. Emphasizing transparency, lightness, green roofs, and common spaces, 181 Mercer’s design thoughtfully accommodates its many uses. By moving circulation to the building’s perimeter and through the second floor “Commons,” the design encourages interactions between students and faculty, athletes and artists, residents and audience members.

Situated at the southern boundary of the main campus, the new building will serve as a gateway from Houston Street, and as a transition between the large scale towers and superblocks of its neighboring context and the varied urban streetscape of Greenwich Village. It will also create and enhance green pedestrian walks and outdoor spaces that are vital aspects of the school’s dense urban campus.

181 Mercer has required coordination with City Planning and ULURP approvals. Additionally, given the building’s prominent location on the edge of Greenwich Village, the neighboring community was engaged throughout the early planning process.