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Dissecting the Columbia Med School Building, in Free Verse

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Diller Scofidio + Renfro's design for Columbia University's new med school tower has ellicited a lot of strong reactions. It's been called the "craziest building in Harlem" by the Observer and "vertical roadkill" by a Curbed commenter. So what does New York's most poetic archicritic think of it? In his latest review, Bloomberg James Russell examines the building not so much for its mindboggling design, but for the purpose of those mindboggling spaces, which Elizabeth Diller explains is to promote "communal and collaborative study." Without further ado, it's Rhyme Time with James Russell:

Lounges, balconies and terraced gathering spaces,
the 14-story sheer-glass facade,
In an architectural rendering,
the structure appears to have disrobed.

That be-bopping southern edge,
the Study Cascade.

Diagonals and softly curved edges
clamber up the building behind large sheets of glass.
Zigzagging wood-clad stairways
hook the levels together.

This sun-splashed vertical canyon
unites floors of classrooms and labs.
To have human interaction shape a building
is an extraordinary departure
from the standard considerations.

The Study Cascade explodes out of the building.
Next to the glass-wrapped lobby,
a small public lawn will replace an ugly concrete driveway.
A windswept, cracked-slate courtyard,
will become a lushly planted garden.
· Columbia Students Dissect Robots In Campus Cliffhanger [Bloomberg]
· Rhyme Time with James Russell [Curbed]

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