As City College’s Hamilton Heights campus begins its second century, the College is in the midst of its largest capital construction program since the original five buildings were built. The program consists of three separate projects encompassing four structures.
The first, The Towers, a 180,000 square-foot residence hall with rooms for 600 students and faculty members, opened in August 2006. Built through a public-private partnership and located at the corner of St. Nicholas Terrace and W. 130th Street, it is the first student housing ever built on a CUNY campus.
The former Cohen Library, a.k.a. “Y” Building, at the northern entrance to the South Campus, is being converted into a new home for the School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. Designed by Rafael Viñoly, the structure, which will have approximately 79,000 square feet of space for studios, classrooms, offices and student lounges, is scheduled for completion in 2009.
In addition, New York State has authorized and appropriated funds for construction of two new buildings on South Campus that will house laboratories, offices and conference space for CCNY and CUNY’s top scientists. With a total of 390,000 square feet of space, the new science research complex “will enhance The City College’s scientific mission and its status as CUNY’s flagship campus in the sciences,” notes President Gregory H. Williams.
Completion of these facilities will create new opportunities to use space in Shepard Hall and the Marshak Science Center that the construction projects will free up. The College has engaged a planning consultant to focus on reuse of these structures.
“The consultant will make recommendation on the best uses for the space,” explains Robert Santos, CCNY’s Vice President for Campus Planning and Facilities Management. “These recommendations will guide us in developing an adaptive reuse plan that is least disruptive to the architecture, maximizes use of technology and makes up for shortcomings in the existing structures.”
The architectural beauty of the historic buildings like Shepard Hall has earned them landmark status. They evoke fond memories for countless CCNY alumni. However, the features that make them so special also put physical constraints on their adaptive reuse. Bringing them into compliance with modern building codes, the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations can be challenging, as well.
Some of the facilities, particularly tiered classroom, are outdated and not in keeping with modern teaching methods, tend to be more group oriented and interactive. One such room on the first floor of Baskerville Hall is being converted into a smart classroom.
The key is finding new uses that are appropriate to the facilities, Mr. Santos explains. “You want to be able to modify their uses without having to knock down walls or eliminate details. What you don’t want to do is try to force everything into a building to try to do everything people think they may want to do today, tomorrow and the day after.”
Even though it is not yet known what programs will come into Shepard Hall once SAUDLA moves out, one thing is certain. The students who will occupy its seats in its second century will be very much like those who occupied them in its first.