SIPA – Columbia University

New York, New York

Working closely with Studio Joseph, HMWhite investigated a variety of design options that re-envisioned the transformation of three exterior spaces within Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs' (SIPA) building. The study included its 118th Street Entrance, central sunken courtyard, and its monumental plaza entry. One of the challenges was working with the 1970’s structure’s brutalist architectural character and dated infrastructure. In each case, our design strategies worked with the structure’s armature and looked to judiciously add to or peel away. In each case, we sought to simplify and clarify the fundamental function of each space. With each simplification, opportunities to integrate elements of the natural world were paramount. All three project areas were largely absent of any vegetation. By applying state-of-the-art structured landscape technologies, generous planting systems were introduced to vastly transform the spatial environment and the use experience. A resulting updated and more welcoming appearance and building operation would add considerable value in lifting the school’s image and prestige both within and outside the Columbia University community.  

Design Team
Architect: Studio Joseph
Structural Engineer: WSP

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